Tom Candiotti has thrown a knuckleball for years, but until last season he didn’t realize he had lightning in a bottle.
Candiotti, who couldn’t make it with the Milwaukee Brewers using his normal stuff, pitched a three-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles as the Cleveland Indians rolled to a 7-0 victory Monday night at Cleveland.
“I didn’t take it seriously until last year, and it’s turned me around,” said Candiotti, who used the knuckler to pitch the best game of his major league career. “Before that, it was just a mess-around pitch.”
The 28-year-old right-hander spent parts of the 1983 and ’84 seasons with the Brewers, compiling a 6-6 record, before beginning to work on the knuckleball seriously in the minors last year.
The Indians signed him during the off-season and gave him a spot in their rotation alongside veteran knuckleballer Phil Niekro.
“Having Phil Niekro here has been a fantastic learning experience for me,” Candiotti said. “I wasn’t really sure that pitch would work against major league hitters.”
Candiotti (1-1), who struck out a career-high 10 batters, walked four and allowed a fourth-inning single to center by Fred Lynn, a fifth-inning single to left by Floyd Rayford and a ninth-inning single to center by Eddie Murray.
“He throws a knuckleball that the Niekros (Joe and Phil) and Charlie Hough would be proud of,” Oriole shortstop Cal Ripken said.
Cleveland rookie Andy Allanson drove in three runs on four hits, raising his average to .455, as the Indians won for the fifth time in seven games.
Rayford, who was playing in his first game of the season for Baltimore after being sidelined by a bone chip in his left thumb, committed four errors to tie an American League record for third basemen shared by 19 others.
New York 8, Kansas City 4--Don Mattingly drove in five runs with three doubles--his first extra-base hits of the season--as the Yankees overcame the Royals at Kansas City.
The Yankees’ Ed Whitson (1-1), in his first start since Manager Lou Piniella announced that he will not start at Yankee Stadium because of hostile fans, limited the Royals to five hits and two runs before he was relieved in seventh inning by Rod Scurry.
The Yankees snapped a 2-2 tie in the fifth on Mattingly’s run-scoring double off Cy Young Award-winner Bret Saberhagen (1-1). Dave Winfield singled home Mattingly to chase Saberhagen, who lost for the first time since last Sept. 8.
Mattingly also had a pair of two-run doubles.
Detroit 5, Boston 4--Jim Rice and Wade Boggs hit home runs, but the Tigers still came away with a victory over the Red Sox at Boston.
Lou Whitaker knocked in two runs and Dave Collins had three hits and scored twice as Detroit ended Boston’s winning streak at four games by beating Al Nipper (1-2).
Walt Terrell (2-1) pitched six innings, allowing eight hits while walking four and striking out one to earn the victory. Willie Hernandez worked the final 1 innings, allowing one hit to post his fourth save of the season.
Toronto 7, Texas 6--Cliff Johnson’s two-out, three-run double capped a four-run eighth inning that rallied the Blue Jays past the Rangers at Toronto.
Mark Eichhorn (1-0) worked 3 innings of relief and struck out five to earn his first major league victory. Texas reliever Greg Harris slipped to 2-2.
Minnesota 5, Seattle 2--Frank Viola pitched a four-hitter and Tom Brunansky had a pair of run-scoring singles as the Twins snapped a three-game losing streak by turning back the Mariners at Seattle.
Viola (3-1) struck out nine and walked five, and the Twins turned four double plays behind him.
Groman Thomas hit his fourth homer for Seattle.