Joyner’s Two Make Sutton’s 297th Easy
Wally World souvenirs were readily available at Anaheim Stadium Monday night, courtesy of manufacturer Wally Joyner, who seems to be working on a quota system these days.
Joyner, the Angel rookie first baseman, tried to keep up with the demand by producing another two home runs, four runs batted in and three hits in five tries. Also included in the package was a 7-1 Angel victory over the Boston Red Sox in front of a crowd of 24,450.
The pair of homers now gives Joyner 12 for the season, which ties him for the major league lead with Minnesota’s Kirby Puckett. It took Joyner all season at Edmonton, the Angels’ Triple-A team, to hit 12 home runs.
And nothing against Rod Carew, the man with a stamped ticket to the Hall of Fame, but Joyner has as many homers as Carew had in the last five seasons. Carew had 39 RBIs in 1985. Joyner has 33 in 33 games.
“I’m just riding the wave out, loving every minute of it until it hits the sand,” Joyner said.
So where’s the beach?
Joyner is hitting .326 and learns fast. In the Angels’ first series against the Red Sox, a two-game affair a week ago, Joyner was 0 for 9 with one RBI. On Monday, he handled Boston starter Al Nipper with surprising ease, as if Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman were whispering what pitches were coming.
As if the Angels needed any more help, there was the rejuvenated Don Sutton, who won his second consecutive game and the 297th of his career and held the Red Sox to five hits during his seven-inning work shift. Terry Forster did the rest, and the Angels had their second win in a row and a good seat atop the AL West standings.
“I’ll spend a couple of minutes with you guys until Wally comes out,” Sutton said to reporters. “I’m sort of an Ed McMahon: I’ll do a little tap dance until he gets here.”
Part of the dance routine included appraisals of Joyner, who can’t do much of anything wrong these days. There he was accepting another player-of-the-something award before Monday’s game. The “Wall-ee, Wall-ee” was present, as usual, as was a banner or two.
“I’ve seen some very talented people who I thought would have great careers, but I don’t think I’ve seen a guy with the grace, ease and maturity of Wally Joyner,” Sutton said. “The best thing we can do is keep the geniuses away from him.”
In Sutton’s last two victories, Joyner has contributed six RBIs, which may explain the testimonial. But they didn’t stop with Sutton.
Said Manager Gene Mauch: “He had a fine day, but what impresses me more than anything is his stability and the way he handles himself.”
Sure enough, Joyner made sure he appeared for his impromptu postgame press conference long after George Hendrick, who has the locker next to him, had had time to shower and dress in comfort. After checking with Hendrick, the veteran, to make sure everything was OK, Joyner went ahead with the assorted interviews.
In the end, Joyner decided he didn’t know just why or how he was hitting for such power. Wait, hadn’t Joyner lifted weights during the off-season? Yeah, maybe that was it.
“I’ve always worked out with weights, but my body just never accepted it until now,” he said.
Nipper might have preferred a longer lag time. Batting in the No. 2 position in the first inning, Joyner sent Nipper’s 3-and-1 pitch to the opposite field, a homer that landed in the left-field bleachers. That gave the Angels a 1-0 first-inning lead, a score that lasted just until the third, when the Red Sox mounted their first and only true rally of the evening.
Steve Lyons began the inning with a hard grounder that caromed off third baseman Doug DeCinces glove into foul territory. As DeCinces and outfielder Brian Downing hurried to retrieve the ball, Lyons, who entered the game with a .188 average, stopped at second with a not-so-picture-perfect double. Ed Romero followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved Lyons to third. It wasn’t necessary as Dwight Evans doubled to left, scoring Lyons.
Sutton promptly coaxed the dangerous Wade Boggs (.363 average coming into the game) to ground out to DeCinces. Bill Buckner then flew out to second baseman Rob Wilfong to end the inning.
The rest of the Red Sox’s evening was spent trying to figure out Sutton. From the beginning of the fourth to two outs in the seventh, Sutton allowed just one hit and, at one point, had retired 10 batters in a row. A double ended the streak.
And true to his word, Manager Gene Mauch pulled Sutton (2-3) after 100 pitches. No matter. Forster allowed just one hard hit ball, an eighth-inning single by Evans. Sutton is just three victories away from No. 300.
“The goal is there and if I do the job, it will come,” Sutton said. “But I don’t paste it on the dashboard or play a tape that says, ‘You must win 300 . . . You must win 300 . . . You must win 300.’ ”
Meanwhile, Joyner continued to make life miserable for Nipper, who had a respectable 2.64 earned-run average when he arrived at Anaheim Stadium Monday afternoon.
In the fourth, Nipper walked DeCinces to begin the innning. Downing singled on a nice hit-and-run play. Ruppert Jones walked to load the bases.
Up came Wilfong, who singled to drive in two runs. Gary Pettis, back from suspension and a leg injury, bounced a bad-hop single over second baseman’s Marty Barrett’s head and the Angels had a 4-1 lead.
Joyner then put considerable distance between the Angels and the Red Sox with his second homer of the night, this time into the right-center field seats.
“It’s something new to me,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re doing or what I’m doing. I just hope it continues.”
Of course, quotas to meet, demands to be kept.
Urbano Lugo pitched another simulated game before Monday’s Angel batting practice began. He threw 82 pitches and his fastball, at times, was clocked at about 88 m.p.h. Pitching coach Marcel Lachemann said Lugo’s velocity stayed strong throughout what amounted to five innings of work. The Angels are considering sending Lugo, if he experiences no arm trouble in the next day or so, to one of their minor league teams, a warm weather area such as Palm Springs (Class A) or Midland, Texas, (Double A). But Lachemann said that a road trip with the Triple-A Edmonton club to Las Vegas or Albuquerque is also a possibility. . . . Gary Pettis was back in the lineup after serving a two-game suspension Friday and Saturday and another day spent resting his banged-up left knee. “ Wheeee-haaaa, I’ve got my tackling dummy back tonight,” Brian Downing said when he saw Monday’s lineup card. “Just call me, ‘Crash,’ ” Pettis said. Downing and Pettis have been involved in two recent outfield collisions.