Angels Rally to Defeat Righetti and Gang That Can’t Throw Straight
When it came to the act of throwing a baseball around the infield, Yankee ingenuity came up lacking Monday night.
The New York Yankees, who eight days ago achieved the rare distinction of winning a baseball game against the Angels while committing six errors, were at it again, blowing a trio of defensive plays. And this time, it cost them.
Two errors paved the way for a six-run Angel second inning and one more in the ninth proved the cornerstone for a rally that resulted in an 8-7 Angel victory in front of an Anaheim Stadium crowd of 32,746.
New York took a 7-6 lead into the the bottom of the ninth and sent Dave Righetti, the best left-handed reliever in the American League, to the mound. The Angels had managed only two singles in 6 innings against Bob Shirley. What could they possibly hope for against Righetti?
Well, they received an unexpected helping hand, courtesy of an erratic Yankee arm. After Dick Schofield opened the ninth with a walk, Bob Boone hit a sharp grounder to the left of second base. Second baseman Willie Randolph raced behind the bag to backhand the ball, planted and threw wildly to first. The ball wound up in the Yankee dugout, awarding third base to Schofield and second to Boone.
Angel Manager Gene Mauch then sent Doug DeCinces in to pinch-run for Boone and George Hendrick to pinch-hit for Gary Pettis. Hendrick drew an intentional walk to load the bases.
Another pinch-hitter, Rick Burleson, followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring Schofield with the tying run. Wally Joyner walked. The bases were loaded again, setting up a confrontation between Righetti and perhaps the Angels’ best pressure hitter, Brian Downing.
For four pitches, Downing and Righetti battled to a draw--two balls and two strikes. But Downing took the fifth and lined it just inches inside the third-base line, under the glove of diving third baseman Mike Pagliarulo. The ball bounced on the outfield grass and DeCinces crossed home plate with the decisive run.
The comeback gave the Angels their third straight victory, brought them back to .500 (25-25), made rookie Chuck Finley (1-0) a major league winner for the first time in his career and capped a sloppy game that saw the Angels score six times in the second inning on just three singles--and, of course, two Yankee errors.
New York Manager Lou Piniella is starting to get fed up with that course.
“We’re gonna make some changes around here, I’ll tell you that,” a livid Piniella fumed. “And they’re gonna be obvious.”
Piniella was asked if he could be more specific. He didn’t want to talk about it.
“You’ll see them,” he snapped.
When the Yankees committed six errors and still beat the Angels May 24, they had a big excuse--the condition of the Yankee Stadium infield. Too hard, they said. Too many divots from cleat marks that create too many bad hops.
They had no such alibis for their mishaps on a soft brown dirt in Anaheim. Shortstop Bobby Meacham misplayed a grounder and Randolph threw a ball away, contributing to a six-run outburst by the Angels in the second inning.
Downing and Reggie Jackson led off the inning with singles and after Ed Whitson struck out Rob Wilfong, he walked Jack Howell to load the bases.
Schofield erased a 1-0 New York lead by bouncing the Angels’ last hit of the inning up the middle, bringing home Downing and Jackson. Bob Boone then hit a bouncer that Meacham couldn’t handle, loading the bases again.
Gary Pettis drew a walk--and an RBI--as the Angels increased their lead to 3-1. It became 5-1 when Randolph gloved Ruppert Jones’ grounder, threw to Meacham covering second for the potential force play--but misfired, rifling the ball past the shortstop into left field. By the time the ball was retrieved, Schofield and Boone had scored and Pettis had reached third.
Piniella then called on Bob Shirley, who got Joyner to hit a sacrifice fly to left, walked Downing and induced Jackson into an inning-ending fly out.
Shirley then completed the next six innings in almost utter silence. He allowed just two singles--one to Jackson in the fifth inning and Pettis in the seventh. Only Pettis, who advanced on a sacrifice bunt, reached as far as second base.
After the Yankees took a 7-6 lead, Finley got the call. And he got Mattingly to ground to short to end the inning and bring on the bottom of the ninth--and the rally that gave Finley his first big league victory.
Mauch commemorated the moment by handing Finley the game’s lineup cards. Joyner walked up to Finley and told the assemblage of reporters to “Interview this guy. He beat the Yankees. That man got Don Mattingly to ground out.”
“We’re gonna be all right,” Mauch said. “Some of kids in the bullpen, they don’t know how good they are yet.”
Mauch needs them to be good--and right away. With Moore and Terry Forster ailing, all Mauch has available are Corbett and the kids. With them, it is either sink or swim.
“We didn’t sink tonight, did we?” Mauch said.
Gene Mauch, who managed Rod Carew for eight seasons at both Minnesota and Anaheim, had a few thoughts about his former first baseman’s retirement. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that if he took batting practice for 10 days that he couldn’t go to any major league club and couldn’t have an on-base percentage of .350 or higher,” Mauch said. According to Mauch, one American League executive recently contacted him to inquire about Carew. “I told him what I’m telling you--'Rod Carew will get a hit and Rod Carew will get on base,” Mauch said. The San Francisco Giants were apparently convinced, offering Carew a contract over the weekend. But Carew declined. Earlier, Carew had expressed a desire to end his career in similar style as Carl Yastrzemski, who announced his retirement before his last season and then took one final grand tour of the American League. Carew lost that opportunity Monday, but Mauch said he understood the reasoning. “What the hell would that mean to Rod, in the National League?” he said.
Terry Forster joined Doug DeCinces as a recipient of a cortisone injection in his left shoulder. “They’ve both got holes in their shoulder,” Mauch said. “I doubt that DeCinces can even swing a bat.” The status of both will be reviewed on a day-to-day basis. . . . Bob Boone took more extra batting practice Monday afternoon and unveiled a new batting stance. Gone is the exaggerated wide stance that made Boone look as if he was attempting to do the splits in the batter’s box. Boone has moved his feet closer together, hopeful of getting better upper-body movement on his swing. “I liked the old stance,” Boone said. “I thought I had it down five or six days ago, and then I went into a funk. (Sunday) I said, ‘I gotta regroup.’ I was getting tied up on my swing. I had to do something to free my upper body. You go through a season with one (batting) program and this is just one of those program changes.”
In a pregame ceremony, Reggie Jackson received a trophy commemorating his 537th home run from Mickey Mantle, the man he passed for sixth place on the all-time home run list. “Five-hundred-and-thirty seven home runs are a lot of home runs when you don’t make contact any more than Reggie and me,” Mantle joked. “I was looking for a big ‘K’ to bring Reggie. I told him, ‘Someday you’re gonna get me in the record book for strikeouts.’ And he did.” Said Jackson: “At the age of 40, I can tell you that I relate to the little boys of seven in the stands. I used to play baseball in my backyard, too, and whenever I did something good, I was Mickey Mantle. This is my greatest day, getting something from my boyhood idol. If I had my way, I would’ve liked to have stayed tied with him the rest of my career.”