Blyleven Beats Angels and, in a Way, Himself
Bert Blyleven may have been too good for his own good Wednesday night.
He may have made it impossible for the Angels--already balking at Cleveland’s terms--to put together a package that would satisfy the Indians and, in turn, satisfy Blyleven’s desire to be traded to a team that has an Anaheim home only 10 minutes from his own.
He did it by pitching the Indians to a 2-0 victory over the Angels, who had 20 hits in the series opener Tuesday night but had only three in this one.
In fact, the last 24 Angels were retired in order as Blyleven pitched the 50th shutout of a career in which he has 201 wins.
George Vukovich’s bases-loaded single off Jim Slaton in the sixth inning provided Blyleven with the only runs he needed and dropped the Angels 1 1/2 games behind Chicago in the American League West.
The Angels open a three-game series at Chicago Friday night, after which they have another date with Blyleven Monday night at Anaheim.
Said Blyleven, who has a 20-11 record against the Angels:
“I’ve always enjoyed pitching against the Angels and I’ve always enjoyed pitching in Anaheim. I was brought up 15 minutes away in Garden Grove, and that’s given me added incentive to pitch well against them.
“Of course, I’m also still hopeful I’ll get the chance to pitch for them.”
It didn’t happen before the June 15 waiver deadline because the Angels refused to meet Cleveland’s request for second base prospect Mark McLemore and either Kirk McCaskill or Urbano Lugo, both members of the Angel rotation.
Angel General Manager Mike Port accompanied his team here to inform Cleveland counterpart Joe Klein that the Angels remain interested in Blyleven, who gains the right of approval over a trade next year and is still expected to be traded before then.
The Indians must secure waivers again before Blyleven can be traded, but that’s believed to be a formality. The waiver process seems governed by a clandestine agreement among the clubs not to claim a player who is involved in a possible trade.
The still more difficult process for the Angels is consummating the trade itself. Port said he is back at square one in that regard, and, because of the number of teams interested in Blyleven, “it’s a situation that changes day to day.”
Asked if he supported Port’s decision that the Angels cannot trade their future, Manager Gene Mauch nodded his head and said: “If we can get Bert without destroying too much of what we’ve built up, then go ahead. But, in my opinion, they’re asking for too much. I mean, I blanched the minute they asked for McLemore.”
Cleveland Manager Pat Corrales looks at it the other way.
“I don’t want to trade him at all,” he said, “but Bert has expressed his feelings. We’re trying to accommodate him, but the people we’re talking to have to realize that you’ve got to give up something to get something--and they haven’t been willing to do that.”
The Indians are 21-41 overall. Of their last 10 wins, six belong to Blyleven. The 34-year-old right-hander is 6-6 after a 1-5 start and has won his last three decisions, fashioning an earned-run average of 0.33. He is 4-1 over his last five starts, a period in which his ERA is 1.45.
“What you saw tonight,” Corrales said, “is the way he has pitched since early May.”
Blyleven yielded a leadoff single to Gary Pettis in the first, struck out Rod Carew, then yielded a single to Juan Beniquez before getting Doug DeCinces to ground into a double play.
He yielded a single to Daryl Sconiers opening the second, then retired the next 24 Angels in order, striking out seven en route to his fourth shutout of the season, a league high.
Said Mauch, who managed Blyleven in Minnesota:
“When I had him he had a great arm and knew nothing about pitching. He still has a great arm and now knows a whole lot about pitching.
“He’s a hell of a pitcher and should be for quite a while.”
Which is one reason Blyleven thinks a club can afford to ransom some of its pitching.
“I’ve got five or six years left,” he said. “This organization is two or three years away from having a real good club. I don’t fit in their plans and I’ve told them that the smart thing to do would be to trade me for two or three players who will help them in the future.
“All the rumors had been tough on me mentally, but after the June 15 deadline I made up my mind that I had no control over it. If they want me to stay here for the last year and a half of my contract, that’s the way it will have to be, but I really think they’re trying to trade me.
“Hopefully, the club will benefit, and so will I.”
Bert Blyleven and seven walks stood in the way of Jim Slaton having a happy 35th birthday. Two of the walks and a single by Brook Jacoby loaded the bases in the sixth, when George Vukovich delivered his game-winning hit. . . . The Indians, who were put through a 4 p.m. workout in the wake of their poor play Tuesday night, played flawlessly behind Blyleven. “We don’t have five or six veterans to settle our kids down,” Manager Pat Corrales said of the Tuesday night performance. “All we have are kids, and that’s the way they’re going to look at times.” . . . The Angels, who had put Tommy John on a designated-for-assignment list 10 days ago, asked waivers Wednesday, meaning John will be free to sign with another team in five days. . . . Reserve catcher Jerry Narron is nursing a sore elbow and is not expected to relieve Bob Boone until Sunday at Chicago. . . . The Angels’ Ron Romanick (7-3) faces Don Schulze (3-6) tonight.