The Texas Rangers, rising from the depths of the American League West, caught up with the depths of the Angel bullpen Saturday night and plunged the Angels one game deeper into second place.
Ganging up on the Angels’ second line of relief--Jim Slaton, Doug Corbett, D. W. Smith and Al Holland--the Rangers rallied from a two-run deficit to defeat the Angels, 8-5, in front of an Anaheim Stadium crowd of 29,988. The loss dropped the Angels three games behind first-place Kansas City, a 2-1 winner over Oakland.
The Angels’ problems first cropped up when starting pitcher John Candelaria developed stiffness in his lower back in the fifth inning, causing him to leave. They were compounded when Manager Gene Mauch decided to give Donnie Moore and Stewart Cliburn the night off.
Candelaria left the game with a 4-2 lead. Slaton came on to open the sixth inning and quickly made it 4-3--surrendering a leadoff home run to Gary Ward.
Two innings later, Texas tied it--and took the lead.
Larry Parrish began the eighth inning by doubling off Slaton. Parrish’s pinch-runner, Wayne Tolleson, then took third when Ward hit a deep fly to right. That brought on Angel reliever No. 2, Corbett.
Corbett walked the first batter he faced, Pete O’Brien, and got the second, Steve Buechele, to hit a dribbler to third. Tolleson broke for home, and third baseman Doug DeCinces hesitated slightly on his throw to the plate.
Tolleson scored, Buechele reached first and O’Brien took second.
One out later, Corbett yielded a two-run double to Texas’ No. 9 batter, Curtis Wilkerson, and the Angels suddenly found themselves behind, 6-4.
It rapidly became 8-4, courtesy of Smith and Holland. Smith replaced Corbett to open the ninth, with the following results:
Single by Alan Bannister.
Pop out by Don Slaught.
Walk to Parrish.
Smash to center field by Ward, sending Gary Pettis crashing into the fence for a saving catch, but enabling Bannister and Parrish to advance 90 feet.
Holland came in with O’Brien at the plate. O’Brien lined a single to right, Bannister and Parrish scored and the Rangers had broken open the game.
The Angels mounted a mini-comeback in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Pettis delivered his third extra-base hit of the night--a triple to center--and scored on Juan Beniquez’s double. Rod Carew followed with a walk.
Pinch-hitter Daryl Sconiers and Brian Downing could do no more, however, Sconiers forced Carew and Downing forced Deron White, who pinch-ran for Sconiers.
Just like that, the Angels lost another step on the Royals.
Corbett took the loss, dropping his record to 2-3. Matt Williams (1-0) earned his first victory and Rich Surhoff, who pitched the eighth and ninth innings, got his first save.
The Angel bullpen enabled Texas to overcome its own ineptitude in the field.
The Rangers are in last place in the AL West, 29 1/2 games behind Kansas City, and they didn’t get there with luck. Texas displayed its own sort of Doomsday Defense in the early going Saturday, botching four plays in the first six innings.
Third baseman Steve Buechele committed two errors, letting one ball skitter between his legs and throwing away another. Second baseman Alan Bannister dropped a pop fly off the bat of Bobby Grich in the sixth inning.
But the real damage was done by left-fielder Gary Ward, who failed to gather in Dick Schofield’s leadoff double in the fifth inning and instead gave the Angels a 3-2 lead.
Schofield broke the tie by driving a pitch from Jeff Russell down the left-field line. Ward moved over to field the ball on the bounce, but let it get by him--the ball rolling to the wall and Schofield rounding the bases for a run.
Pettis then dunked a double in front of Ward, moved to third on a ground out by Carew and scored on Reggie Jackson’s single to right.
Ward made atonement an inning later by hitting his 13th home run of the season against Jim Slaton. That brought Texas to within one run again at 4-3--and set the stage for the Rangers’ rally.
The save by Donnie Moore and the home run by Reggie Jackson that helped Don Sutton win his first start as an Angel Friday both had more than passing significance. Moore’s save, increasing his single-season club-record total to 27, also moved him into a tie for fifth place on the Angels’ all-time career saves list with Don Aase and Art Fowler. Jackson’s home run was the 40th of his career against Texas, the most ever hit against the Rangers by a single player. . . . More on Moore: In 34 save opportunities this season, he has succeeded in 27--or a percentage of .794. The Angels are 45-13 (.776) in games Moore has pitched. . . . Prior to Saturday’s game, the Rangers reactivated pitcher Dave Rozema, who had been on the disabled list since Aug. 11. Rozema, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 20, is 3-7, but is second on the team in saves with six. . . . Kirk McCaskill (9-11) opposes Jose Guzman (0-1) in today’s series finale.