Defense Rises, Falls, Rises to Occasion for Angels

Times Staff Writer

By looking at the three errors listed in the box score, it would seem that the Angels had played a poor fielding game in Sunday's 4-1 win over New York at Anaheim Stadium.

But, as Angels catcher Bob Boone said, "We had a good defensive effort today for screwing up a few balls."

The Angels made some mistakes, but they ultimately managed to come up with the key defensive plays they needed to come from behind to take the last game of the three-game series against the Yankees.

Boone was the ringleader in the defensive effort, throwing out two runners (Willie Randolph and Bobby Meacham) trying to steal second base in the third inning.

Then, in the fourth inning, with the bases loaded and one run in courtesy in part of a throwing error by pitcher Jim Slaton and a dropped line drive by left fielder Ruppert Jones, Boone helped convert a double play that took the Yankees out of the inning.

Yankee catcher Ron Hassey hit a sharp grounder to first, Rod Carew fielded it cleanly and threw to the plate to get the force out. Boone then got the ball back to first in time to double up Hassey.

It was Carew's second alert play of the inning. Earlier, when a Slaton pickoff attempt was wide of the mark with the ever-dangerous Rickey Henderson on first, Carew collided with Henderson while going for the ball, allowing the Yankee speedster to advance only to second.

"Rickey was trying to go, and I was going for the ball at the same time," Carew said. "I couldn't get to the ball, so I was trying to slow him down so he couldn't get to third."

Second baseman Rob Wilfong backed up Carew on the pickoff attempt and retrieved the ball quickly, keeping Henderson at second base.

Henderson later scored on a single by Dave Winfield, but the Carew-Boone-Carew double play gave Slaton some solid backup until the Angels scored in the sixth and eighth innings.

After the game, Boone was more upset with a called third strike he took in the Angels' sixth inning than he was impressed with his defensive handiwork.

"It was your basic close-enough-to-swing-at pitch," Boone said of the called third strike on the outside corner with two out and the bases loaded.

"It was a hair outside. I sit back there and see enough pitches to know when to swing. I just hate to do that with the bases loaded. I got lulled into trusting him (the umpire) because he'd called that same pitch a ball earlier that at-bat."

Two who apparently didn't trust the umpire to call enough pitches bad to walk them were Brian Downing and Jones. Each swung away for two-run homers, with Downing's shot giving the Angels the lead for good in the sixth inning.

Despite the hitting, it took more good defensive plays by the Angels in the latter innings to keep the Yankees from scoring.

In the top of the sixth with runners at second and third and one out, Dave Winfield hit a sharp grounder to second. Instead of automatically throwing to first, Wilfong challenged Ken Griffey, who was halfway between third and home, threatening to score.

Wilfong threw to Boone at the plate, who relayed it to shortstop Dick Schofield covering the bag at third. He threw it to third baseman Bobby Grich, who was down the third base line, and he eventually tagged out Griffey in a rundown.

The last big defensive play for the Angels came in the eighth inning with Griffey on second base and one out. Don Mattingly hit a line drive to Dick Schofield at shortstop, and he managed to tag a sliding Griffey out at second to complete the double play.

Such stalwart play was not lost on Angel team leaders Downing and Reggie Jackson.

"We had a little trouble defensively the first two games (against the Yankees)," Downing said, "but we were much better today. Good pitching and solid defense helps a team as much as the hitting does."

Said Jackson: "For the first five or six innings we really didn't do anything, but we hung in there. A couple of home runs and--bingo--we're on top."

Asked whether such a game would carry over to the Angels' play this week, Jackson replied, "It'll carry us until tomorrow (Monday) at 7:30 p.m. (against Detroit)."

"We had a good defensive effort today for screwing up a few balls.'

--Bob Boone

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