With the Seattle Mariners down and the Oakland A’s up next, the Angel pitching staff is right where it wants to be today.
The place that the Seattle Mariners call home housed some true horrors for Angel pitchers the past three days. Donnie Moore and Ken Forsch made Jim Presley a hero and injured a few outfield seats in the process. John Candelaria and the gremlins in his left elbow? They’re here, creating a painful exit by the second inning.
And Thursday night, Don Sutton, five victories away from becoming baseball’s 19th 300-game winner, was rendered a mere batting practice pitcher for four innings--surrendering two home runs and six singles, which the Mariners helped convert into a 5-2 victory before a crowd of 10,780.
The Kingdome went to work early. Its short left-field fence was found--and then some--by Gorman Thomas in the second inning for a 1-0 Seattle lead. Moments later, the right-field fence was explored by Alvin Davis. Mariners, 2-0.
And in the third inning, four singles duplicated what those two blows had produced. Davis had one of them, driving home Phil Bradley for Seattle’s third run. And Presley, back on the marquee again, drove in the fourth run with another single.
When one more single by Bradley greeted Sutton in the fifth, Manager Gene Mauch called upon rookie T.R. Bryden. He pitched creditably, but the Angels’ second loss of the new season was already well on its way into the record book.
Later, Mauch defended Sutton and approved of the pitches made. It was just another one of those nights in Homerville.
“Sutton had outstanding stuff,” Mauch insisted. “I hope he has the same stuff nine out of the next 10 times he goes out there. He’ll win a lot of games.”
Sutton, however, wasn’t sure he could concur with that appraisal.
“Those were hittable pitches,” he said of the balls Thomas and Davis sent rattling among the bleacher seats. “They did what power hitters do to hittable pitches.”
Both home runs came on 3-2 pitches. Both times, Sutton went for the strikeout and got knocked out.
“The pitch to Davis was a breaking ball right down the middle,” Sutton said. “The pitch to Thomas was a fastball. I wanted it on the outer half of the plate, but it went down the middle, too.”
Seattle’s pitcher, Matt Young, is accustomed to the confines of the Kingdome. A graduate of St. Francis High School in La Canada and UCLA, Young is a pitcher of promise whose numbers have taken a beating here. Young made the American League All-Star team in 1983, only to slump to 18-27 the next two seasons.
Thursday night, however, Young conquered the Dome. Through seven innings, he had the Angels stifled--limiting them to a generously scored infield single by George Hendrick and a sharp single to right by Bobby Grich.
With one out in the fifth, Hendrick squibbed a ball past the left side of the mound. Shortstop Spike Owen sprinted in, reached down and came up with air. The ball skittered under his glove, and Hendrick was safe at first.
The official scorer ruled it an infield single. End of no-hitter.
Grich had the first legitimate hit in the sixth inning. He was also the first Angel to reach second base, getting there when right fielder Ivan Calderon committed his first of two errors, misplaying a single.
But Grich stayed there, stranded when Wally Joyner struck out.
Young tired enough to allow runs in the eighth and ninth innings but kept the damage minimal. The Angels scored their first run when Dick Schofield doubled, went to third on right fielder Calderon’s fielding error and came home on Gary Pettis’ single. They got their second on a solo home run by Hendrick.
All told, the Angels managed six hits against Young, who struck out four and walked two. He had a no-hitter through 4 innings.
The best news the Angels got out of the evening--besides getting out of the Kingdome--was the performance of Bryden. In his first major league appearance, Bryden worked four innings, retiring the first 10 batters he faced.
He faltered slightly in the eighth when he walked Thomas and surrendered a triple to Davis. But that was the only hit he allowed. He struck out three.
Bryden had an idea why he stumbled in the ninth.
“I lost a little concentration. I finally figured out where I was,” he said.
The Angels left Seattle with one victory in three tries. And to get that win, they scored nine runs.
But the season is young, and the pitchers have time to recover. As Sutton put it: “We have 159 more.”
And only three more in the Kingdome.
Angel Notes John Candelaria flew back early to Los Angeles for tests on his sore left elbow. Candelaria will be examined by team physician Dr. Lewis Yocum, with a bone scan and a battery of nerve tests on the agenda. “I don’t know what they have in mind, but whatever it is, I’m sure it’s going to be painful,” Candelaria said. He was sitting in front of his locker as he talked, scratching off the numbers of a Washington state lottery ticket with a coin. With his right hand. “My left hand I can’t move,” he said. Candelaria and the Angels are genuinely concerned about his elbow. What is known: The elbow has a bone spur. What is uncertain: Why the pain is sporadic. Candelaria made two starts in the last week of spring training, pitching well and without discomfort. Then, Wednesday, he barely winced his way through two innings. “Smitty (trainer Rick Smith) doesn’t know what it is; I can’t figure it out,” Candelaria said. Manager Gene Mauch said he expects Candelaria to miss at least one start. He is scheduled pitch Monday, the Angels’ home opener. “If Candelaria can’t make it Monday, we’ll send (Jim) Slaton out there,” Mauch said.
Gary Lucas, due to come off the 15-day disabled list Monday, was moved to the 21-day disabled list. “I’m just not ready,” said Lucas, who will throw off the mound today for the first time in two weeks. “By no means will I go all out. I’m going to baby it. But at least the pain is out of my back. I’ve been able to walk around pain-free for the last six, seven days.” . . . After sitting out the first two games with a groin strain, Dick Schofield returned to the starting lineup Thursday night.