Carew Delivers Key Single in 3-2 Angel Win
Making only his second start since returning from the disabled list, Rod Carew displayed his patented touch, if not his timing, Wednesday night.
In a game in which the Angels got only seven hits off Charlie Hough’s noted knuckler, Carew had two, including a two-run, fifth-inning single that broke a 1-1 tie and ultimately enabled the Angels to defeat Texas, 3-2.
An Anaheim Stadium crowd of 22,874 saw Mike Witt, now 4-6 in his search for consistency, permit five hits in the first two innings, then only one more before Donnie Moore came on with two out in the eighth and ultimately registered his 13th save, surviving a leadoff single in the ninth by Larry Parrish.
The win enabled the Angels to remain a half game behind Chicago in the American League West. The White Sox, who have won five in a row and 11 of their last 14 games, open a four-game series at the Big A tonight.
Carew, who went on the disabled list May 20 for a stress fracture in his left foot, went 0 for 4 in his return to the lineup Tuesday night, then was hitless in two at bats against Hough before looping a single over the head of leaping shortstop Curt Wilkerson with two-out in the fifth, cashing in Bob Boone and Bobby Grich, who had walked and advanced on a passed ball.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Carew said of his first hit since May 19, “but I’ll take anything I can get whenever I can get it.
“No matter how much batting practice you take, when you’ve been out three weeks it’s just not the same mentally. You have to pick up the rest under game conditions.”
Carew, who now has 2,958 career hits, carried a .250 career average against Hough. He said he was simply trying to put the bat on the ball and hit an outside knuckler to the opposite field. He also said his timing still isn’t back and neither is his foot, which was wrapped in ice as Carew stood at his locker.
“No,” he said, responding to a question, “I wouldn’t say it’s 90%. I get into the sixth and seventh innings and I’m dying. It’s stiff and sore but it’s not as bad as it was. I’m not going to be able to run as well as I would like, but I couldn’t push off or put any pressure on it at all before.
“I still have to adjust because I can’t really push off on it. I have to use my hands and try to hit the ball up the middle or to left field.”
The Angel offense had adjusted poorly during Carew’s absence, compounding the first baseman’s frustration.
“I didn’t want to listen to games or to watch games,” he said. “There was nothing I could do to help. It was very hard, very frustrating.”
Manager Gene Mauch agreed.
He reflected on Carew’s contributions Wednesday and said, “This is the way it was early. He wasn’t hitting his usual .300 (he’s now at .264), but his on base percentage was high and he was scoring runs. I suspect that he’s still one of our leaders in runs scored and he’s been out three weeks.”
Now 14-4 in games decided by one run, the Angels also got a significant hit from Brian Downing. With only one hit in his last 40 at bats, Downing flared a double down the right-field line in the second to score Mike Brown with the first run. Brown had legged out a grounder to third.
The modest support was familiar to Witt. The Angels were averaging 3.1 runs for his previous 12 starts and had scored two runs or less in six. Witt has now restricted the opposition to three runs or less in nine of 13 starts, but his performance Wednesday night was characteristic of his inconsistency this year.
Witt gave up two hits and a walk in the first inning, including an RBI double by Buddy Bell. He gave up three more hits in the second before striking out Wilkerson with the bases loaded. He then retired 14 straight batters before walking Pete O’Brien with one out in the seventh.
A leadoff walk to Oddibe McDowell in the eighth and a two-out double by Cliff Johnson--the first Texas hit since the second--made it 3-2 and brought on Moore, who ended the threat by getting Gary Ward on a fly to right. Two pop ups and a ground out followed Parrish’s single in the ninth.
Witt wound up with eight strikouts and three walks. Mauch was asked if he hoped Witt’s work after the second inning represented a culmination of his search for a groove.
“I’m past hope,” Mauch said. “I expect it of him, which might have been a little of his problem. Maybe he’s been feeling the expectations. It’s not just his turn anymore, people expect him to be good. He better get used to it, because I’m going to go on expecting it.”
Toronto, Minnesota, St. Louis and the Angels are reportedly the finalists in the Bert Blyleven Derby. It is expected that Cleveland will deal Blyleven before Saturday’s interleague deadline, though a deal within the league could be made later. Asked if it was his view that the Angels are a finalist, General Manager Mike Port said, “I would hope so. We’re still talking.” . . . Port said he is talking to other clubs as well and “I’d like to think we’re in business with some of them.” . . . The Angels put outfielder Darrell Miller on the 15-day disabled list and activated pitcher Luis Sanchez, who had been on the list since April 24 with a strained neck. . . . Miller had fluid drained from his left knee Wednesday and received a cortisone shot for a nerve irritation in the knee. He is the ninth Angel to go on the DL or rehabilitation list. . . . Sanchez had a 14.04 earned-run average before he went on the DL and proved it wasn’t a fluke by fashioning an 11.57 ERA in three games at Edmonton while on rehabilitation assignment. . . . Gary Pettis, who failed to start again because of a strained shoulder muscle, is expected to play against Chicago tonight. “I was worried yesterday,” Pettis said, “but I’m not worried now. I could have played tonight.” . . . Geoff Zahn, who had begun to throw regularly and make progress in his battle with shoulder tendinitis, incurred soreness in the wake of throwing Monday and is on hold again. “We were getting to the point of thinking about simulated games,” pitching coach Marcel Lachemann said of the Zahn situation. “Now I don’t know.” . . . The Angels passed the million mark in attendance for the 18th time in 25 years. Only in 1982 and ’83 (30 dates) did they reach it quicker. The 32 date average is 31,658.