Having traveled this route as a member of 10 division champions, Reggie Jackson said Sunday that the Angels must now play at a .700 pace to overtake Kansas City and win the West.
This would require the Angels--who are 2 1/2 games back of the Royals with an 80-63 record (a .559 pace)--to win at least 13 of their final 19 games.
In a bid to step up the pace, the Angels will operate with a basically set lineup. The juggling is over. The only changes will involve a right-field platoon of Ruppert Jones and Juan Beniquez.
Manager Gene Mauch, determined to employ his entire roster while keeping a veteran team fresh for September, implied Sunday he will no longer be a factor.
“I don’t see anyone tired,” Mauch said with a degree of pride after Jackson’s three-run, first-inning homer touched off a 12-4 demolition of Texas before an Anaheim Stadium crowd of 30,177.
“It’s theirs now,” Mauch said, meaning that except for a possible platoon in right he will stay with Sunday’s lineup, which was his 137th in 143 games and included the same personnel--except for Jones--with which he opened the season.
The Angels got only four hits in that 6-2 loss to Minnesota, but got 14 off five Texas pitchers whose names may be unknown outside of their immediate families and who are better off because of it.
Jackson wasted little time introducing himself to Jose Guzman, a 22-year-old right-hander making only his second big league start. Guzman allowed six hits and four runs in five innings. The beat went on against Bob Sebra, Chris Welch, Glen Cook and Rich Surhoff, who finally secured the final out of a five-hit, five-run eighth in which Doug DeCinces hit his 14th home run of the season and first since Aug. 3.
DeCinces, who returned to the lineup Friday after missing 24 straight starts because of lower-back problems, said no team can win a division without the type of roster involvement Mauch has engineered but there will now be a certain degree of comfort in knowing “we’re going to put our best foot forward.”
In stomping on the Rangers, the Angels got more than the home runs by Jackson and DeCinces:
--Gary Pettis, who had a double and two triples Saturday night, doubled, singled twice, walked twice, stole two bases, scored three runs and drove in one. Pettis is hitting .385 (20 for 52) in September, providing ignition at the top of the order.
--Brian Downing, 1 for 18 in the wake of his torrid August, doubled, singled, drew three walks and scored two runs.
--An RBI double by Bob Boone in the fourth, an RBI single by Dick Schofield in the fifth, an RBI single by Downing in the sixth and an RBI single by Beniquez in the seventh kept the Angels in gear between Jackson’s homer in the first and the five-run eighth.
“When you get everybody (healthy and) in the lineup these things happen,” Mauch said.
“Even when DeCinces is not hitting, his presence is felt. They know he’s coming up there. I’ve said many times that if we can put our ‘A’ lineup on the field often enough, we’d don’t have a concern.”
There has been some recent feeling that Mauch has too often employed his ‘B’ and ‘C’ lineup, that it was time to go back to the ‘A’ and stay with it, at least to the extent of employing Mr. October on a regular basis.
“If we’re going to play every day from here on in, I like it,” Jackson said Sunday. “Let’s go. I’m only here to win, for no other reason. I can rest all November.”
Of Mauch’s previous pattern, Jackson said: “I can’t play every day. I concede that. Gene juggled it to the point where we’re strong now, but I do think I could have played a little more. At least, I’m doing well enough than I can complain. If you handle a guy right, he’ll think he can play more. On that basis, Gene did it right. It’s been tough for both of us.”
Mauch said he promised Jackson in March that he would appear in at least 130 games. He’s been in 127 with 408 at bats. On the 408th, Jackson was strong enough to leg out an infield single in the eighth, driving in a run.
“That might have been my favorite play of the day,” Mauch said. “I appreciated that just as much as the other.”
The other was Jackson’s 24th homer of the year and 527th of his career. Jackson acknowledged that in the two-on, one-out situation, faced with a rookie pitcher who may have felt he could “throw heat by the old man,” he turned up the dial and went for the home run.
“We’re not a great offensive team,” he said later. “I don’t think that what we did today is indicative. I do think it’s important that we score early to take the pressure off our pitchers. I was looking to run the kickoff back.”
Kirk McCaskill, who had allowed 26 earned runs in the 22 innings of four straight defeats, protected a lead that grew to 5-0 until the sixth, when home runs by Larry Parrish and Duane Walker briefly reduced the deficit to 5-3.
Stewart Cliburn, who returned Thursday night after being sidelined for two weeks with a pulled muscle on the left side of his rib cage, pitched the final 2 innings for his sixth save and first since Aug. 19, which was the last time McCaskill won.
McCaskill is now 10-11. “He wasn’t dazzling but he went out to win the game, and he did,” Mauch said. “We have to keep grinding and winning. Good things will happen if we do.”
Angel Notes Angel General Manager Mike Port, in response to stories from New York that Don Baylor had asked to be traded and with an eye to strengthing the Angel attack, contacted the Yankees Sunday and was given the impression Baylor will not be moved before the season ends. Does he intend to pursue it? “Not at this point,” Port said. . . . The two stolen bases by Gary Pettis gave him a total of 51, the most by an Angel since Mickey Rivers stole 70 in 1975. The 51 steals are more than the Angels’ team total in seven previous seasons. . . . Manager Gene Mauch will juggle the rotation to pitch Mike Witt, Don Sutton and John Candelaria in Chicago. Ron Romanick will miss a turn but gets three more starts against Cleveland, Chicago and Kansas City. Witt will start four or five of the final 19 games whereas Candelaria and Sutton will start four each. . . . Texas center fielder Oddibe McDowell, a rookie of the year candidate, pulled a hamstring making a running catch of Doug DeCinces’ fly to shallow center in the sixth and was forced to leave the game.