An 18 m.p.h wind off Lake Ontario dropped the midgame temperature to 51 degrees Tuesday night.
The sudden chill characterized Angel Manager Gene Mauch’s sudden concern over his starting pitching. Mauch hinted, in fact, that the club is leaning toward making a trade.
This was even before Jim Slaton had given up five runs in a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays.
Slaton, who has lost two straight after winning three in a row, deserved a little better, but the Angels made significant physical and mental errors for the third straight game.
A 2-4 trip on which the starting pitchers have not gone beyond 6 innings while fashioning an earned-run average of 7.04 has reduced the Angels’ American League West lead over Chicago to one game.
It also seems to have frayed a few tempers.
Reggie Jackson, who had a third of the Angels’ nine hits off four Toronto pitchers, delivered a verbal attack on Peter Schmuck of the Orange County Register and Lisa Nehus of the Daily News after the game.
The clubhouse was dead quiet as Jackson yelled expletives at the two. Jackson earlier had asked Schmuck if a TV replay showed Toronto left fielder George Bell catching a sinking liner on which Jackson was then doubled off first in the eighth inning.
Schmuck accurately told Jackson that Bell had made the catch. Jackson accepted that, but later seemed to feel that Schmuck had been telling other Angels that the TV replay proved Jackson fouled up, which Schmuck had not been.
“Who cares what you think?” Jackson shouted, among other things, at Schmuck.
“Get the bleep out of here,” he yelled at Nehus, who already was leaving.
Mauch walked past Jackson and quietly asked him to let up.
“Sorry, skip,” Jackson said.
Mauch continued walking to his office.
“The man gives 100% and hates to lose,” Mauch said.
Asked if Jackson, who already was around second when Bell caught the no-out sinking liner hit by Bobby Grich, should not have held up when the ball was hit or been on his way back to first, Mauch said:
“Base runners are dictated to by the umpires’ decision. We got a slow call (on the catch), and there was nothing Reggie could do considering I had him running on a full-count pitch.”
There was also a controlled attack by Grich on the official scorer, who cited Grich with an error on a pivotal pop fly that fell untouched in the fifth inning, leading to a pair of unearned runs as Toronto rallied for a 3-3 tie.
Slaton had yielded a first-inning run on Willie Upshaw’s two-out double. Wind-blown homers by Grich and Rod Carew provided a 3-1 lead. Slaton then had two outs in the fifth when Damaso Garcia hit a modest pop-up in front of the mound.
Slaton called for Grich, who was behind third, playing Garcia to pull and protecting the line. He made a hard, long run, but the ball fell beyond his reach as Slaton, Carew and Bob Boone got a close-up look.
Grich was cited with an error, which Slaton compounded by walking Rance Mulliniks before permitting a game-tying triple to Lloyd Moseby.
A pair of two-out walks sandwiched around a Jesse Barfield double set the stage for Garcia’s bases-loaded single in the sixth, giving the Blue Jays a 5-3 lead. It also brought in Tommy John, who yielded a homer to Barfield in the eighth.
Afterward, Slaton stood at his locker and said it was inexcusable to give up five runs with two outs. He called for Grich, he said, because he thought the wind would carry the ball that way.
“Every pop-up was a battle tonight,” Grich said, “but the wind didn’t affect this one. It came straight down.
“I was playing deep on the line and couldn’t get there. I’m upset that it opened the door for two runs, but I don’t know how they can give me an error on a ball I didn’t touch. The scorer here is the worst and most inconsistent in baseball. He’s bleeped me before. He should be fired.”
Of the pop-up, Mauch said: “Slaton was the only guy who could have caught it, but I’m sure it never entered his mind with all that leather right there.”
Gary Lavelle, Jim Acker and Bill Caudill ultimately came out of a bullpen that has not allowed a run in the last 24 innings to protect Doyle Alexander’s win, his fifth in six decisions and Toronto’s fourth straight.
The Angels’ pitching dilemma stems from the probability that Geoff Zahn and Ken Forsch won’t be leaving the disabled list soon, and that Kirk McCaskill has lost his three starts since being recalled. Off days have allowed the Angels to go with four starters on this trip, but they will soon need a fifth again.
McCaskill will get one more chance, against the New York Yankees on Saturday, and it is presumed that John will return to the rotation as the fifth starter later on the home stand.
The normally optimistic Mauch reflected on his pitching and said:
“We could be better off than I think we are, but I don’t have a real secure feeling right now.”
Asked if there is a possibility that the Angels will trade for a pitcher, Gene Mauch said: "(General Manager) Mike Port and I have had a couple serious conversations about trades, and I think Mike has had serious conversations with a couple clubs.” . . . A rumor here Tuesday involved Montreal right-hander Steve Rogers, who broke in under Mauch when he was managing the Expos. Said Mauch: “Mike and I have talked about Rogers but we have not approached the Expos.” . . . Rogers recently rejected a trade to Houston because the Astros would not assure him that they would pick up the 1986 option year in his contract, which calls for $1.1 million. The Angels aren’t making those kind of commitments now, either.. . . It turns out that Geoff Zahn required two cortisone shots for the tendinitis in his left shoulder Monday. “For the first time,” Mauch said of Zahn, “I’m a little nervous. The only thing that prevents me from being real nervous is that Geoff Zahn is Geoff Zahn. Hurting isn’t new to Zahn. He may be able to handle it better than some. The double injection might be the ticket. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but that’s the way I look at it.”
Gary Pettis, who has only 5 hits in his last 40 at-bats, reached base via a fielder’s choice in the fifth and stole second, the seventh straight game in which he has stolen successfully, a club record. . . . Pettis is 21 for 21 this year and has a streak of 23 straight over two years. The league record of 32 straight was set by Kansas City’s Willie Wilson in 1980 and equaled by Julio Cruz, then of Seattle, in September, 1980 and April, 1981. Davey Lopes, then with the Dodgers, set the major league record of 38 straight in 1975.. . . The three-hit game was Reggie Jackson’s first since Sept. 15. Jackson is batting .359 (14 for 39) over his last 11 games.. . . More statistics: Damaso Garcia, who won it with his two-run single in the sixth, now has 10 hits in his last 18 at bats, a span in which he has 9 RBIs. Lloyd Moseby was 0 for 17 when he tied it with his two-run triple in the fifth. Bobby Grich was 5 for 37 when he homered in the second. He now has 6 hits in his last 40 at bats. . . . Linda Narron, wife of Angel catcher Jerry Narron, gave birth to the couple’s second daughter, Caitlyn, on Monday. . . . The Angels’ Ron Romanick (4-1) faces Toronto’s Luis Leal (2-2) in the trip finale tonight.