Back spasms sidelined Doug DeCinces in the first inning of Friday night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, but the pain it must have caused his teammates was eased by another strong late-inning performance by reliever Donnie Moore.
Moore’s seventh save gave the Angels a 5-4 win over the Brewers, who had once trailed, 4-0. A three-run homer by Reggie Jackson and a run-scoring squeeze bunt by Bob Boone were the key hits for the Angels (18-11), who lead the West by two games over Minnesota.
DeCinces, the third baseman, experienced the spasm when he broke back, then raced in to catch Doug Loman’s pop-up. Assistant trainer Ned Bergert and Manager Gene Mauch encouraged DeCinces to leave the game.
He was examined by Dr. Paul Jacobs, the Brewer team physician, and sent back to the team hotel.
“It had let up some by the time we got to the clubhouse,” Bergert said, “but we won’t really know anything until tomorrow. It was a legitimate spasm.”
DeCinces, 34, has experienced back problems on an annual basis since the late 1970s, when he was still with Baltimore. A spasm put him on the disabled list for more than a month in 1983, and he went down for 10 key games early last September.
The club leader in RBIs at 19, DeCinces had arrived at County Stadium at 2 Friday afternoon, intent on improving his .219 average with the help of extra batting practice.
“He took 50 extra swings,” Mauch said. “He worked hard. It was like a doubleheader for him. Maybe the extra work contributed to the spasm.”
Bobby Grich moved from second base to replace DeCinces Friday night, but Mauch said he wouldn’t know who will play third tonight until he gets a report on DeCinces.
It can be certain that he will again go to Moore--if needed.
“A relief pitcher has got to have something to save,” Mauch said, “but he’s put the lid on it as well as anyone anywhere. He’s done everything a man can do.”
And Mauch said he’s done it better than any relief pitcher he’s ever had--better than Mike Marshall or Dick Farrell or Jack Baldschun or Doug Corbett or Bill Campbell or Tom Johnson.
“I’ve been fortunate to have some good ones,” he said, “but I don’t remember anyone shutting down a game any better than he has, including Marshall.”
The numbers tell the story. Moore has not allowed a run in his last 12 games, a span of 18 innings. His seven saves place him one behind league leader Jay Howell of Oakland. The Angels are 11-2 in games in which Moore has appeared.
The Angels led, 5-3, when Bill Schroeder opened the seventh with a double, chasing Ron Romanick. Left-hander Pat Clements was summoned, but not to walk left-hander Jim Gantner, which he did. A sacrifice put the runners in scoring position and brought on Corbett.
Robin Yount delivered a sacrifice fly to deep center, making it 5-4 and putting Gantner on third. Mauch had hoped to get to the eighth before summoning Moore, but he didn’t like the authority with which Yount had made contact against Corbett.
He called for Moore, who retired Dion James on a grounder to first, then went on to frustrate the Brewers despite an eighth-inning single by Cecil Cooper and a ninth-inning single by Gantner.
Moore, who had not pitched in four days, said: “I felt pretty good overall, but I was too strong with my breaking pitches. I was overthrowing rather than sitting back and relaxing.”
Romanick emerged with his fourth win against one defeat. He scattered seven hits, including a two-run homer by Yount in the fifth.
The struggling Angel offense got only seven hits, but six came off Pete Vuckovich in the first 2 innings, a virtual repeat of his performance against the Angels in Anaheim last Saturday, when he also went 2 innings, yielding seven hits and four runs in a 4-3 loss.
Vuckovich had won all five of his previous career decisions against the Angels, but he has now lost twice in seven days.
A four-run third inning Friday night was capped by Jackson’s sixth home run and 509th of his career, an opposite-field drive to left that gave Jackson 17 RBIs.
It followed singles by Boone, Rod Carew (who had missed the last five games with a bruised foot and is still on a day-to-day basis) and Ruppert Jones, who drove in the first run.
Ted Higuera, who had shut out the Angels on four hits in Anaheim seven days before, allowed only one hit over the final 6 innings of this game, but it was costly. Bobby Grich doubled to open the sixth, moved to third on a ground-out, then scored the decisive run on Boone’s squeeze bunt.
It was pure Little Ball, but Mauch hopes he will quickly regain the big-ball potential represented by DeCinces.
Angel Notes Bob Boone, a member of the Major League Players Assn.'s Executive Council, returned from a briefing by Executive Director Don Fehr in New York Thursday and said he expects Commissioner Peter Ueberroth to make a specific proposal to the union regarding mandatory drug-testing before the council meets May 23. “The players are very concerned (about the drug problem) and empathize with Ueberroth,” Boone said. “Regardless of his grandstand approach, the players aren’t saying let’s not do anything. What we’re saying is let’s do it right. Hopefully, the joint drug committee is it. It’s impossible to say the joint drug committee isn’t working when it’s only been in effect a few months and the man (Ueberroth) responds to it with a proposal that doesn’t carry any specifics.”. . . Rod Carew borrowed a soft, baseball-type tennis shoe from Mike Brown in his return to the lineup. “You’re still going to see a lot of hobbling,” he said before the game. “Just call me Chester.” . . . He eventually came out in the eighth inning and said: “It had begun to throb in the third inning.