Angels Streak On Royally, Win, 4-3 : McCaskill, Aided by Forster, Gets Team’s Fifth in Row
There are some games that have the look of disaster written on their scorecards. Games where hits fall as easily as summer rains, where earned-run averages inflate and managers wish they had taken their cousin’s advice and gone into aluminum siding sales.
Saturday night’s game between the Angels and the Kansas City Royals began with such a blemished look.
An audience of 40,646, the largest crowd at Royals Stadium this season, watched the Angels score three runs in the first inning and one in the second. Surely, Royal starter Charlie Leibrandt would be shown a seat on the bench soon.
But the Royals countered with three runs of their own in the first and a near-miss in the second. Angel starter Kirk McCaskill might have wondered if catcher Bob Boone had been whispering what pitches were coming.
In two innings, there had been a combined 12 hits, including three doubles and a triple, two walks and some of the more interesting defensive plays of the year.
And then it stopped. Just like that, there were no more runs. The hits continued, but somehow the Angels kept tight hold of their early 4-3 lead and turned it into a cherished victory. They still trail the Texas Rangers by one game in the AL West, but they do so with the knowledge that they have a five-game winning streak, two of the victories coming here against a team that tormented them last year.
The Angels have done most of this without the benefit of ace reliever Donnie Moore, who is on the disabled list, and Wally Joyner, who has 12 hits in his last 63 at-bats (.190). But the Angels have made do, using strong starting pitching to temporarily plug holes.
There was none of that Saturday night. McCaskill, now 7-4 and winner of five of his last six decisions, was awarded the victory. Doug Corbett put out a Royal rally in the seventh, and Terry Forster came on in the eighth, preserved the lead and earned his fourth save. That gives the Angels 17 saves for the season, which is one less than Baltimore’s Don Aase has.
No matter. McCaskill, who said he was pleased with his ability to “battle,” spread praise to all.
“What Doug and Terry did was more important than what I did for six innings,” McCaskill said.
McCaskill was coaxed into the comment by Forster, who walked past the assembled reporters and immediately began clearing his throat. McCaskill smiled and nodded toward Forster.
“I came out with a good fastball,” McCaskill said. “I guess I forgot the pitch. I thought I’d just throw.”
That didn’t work, which necessitated the use of Corbett and Forster. Corbett, who pitched Friday evening for two innings, had told Manager Gene Mauch he could go one or two innings Saturday night. He stayed for two outs.
Then came Forster, who got out of trouble in the eighth after walking the leadoff man and again in the ninth after he walked pinch-hitter Mike Brewer. With two outs, Steve Balboni grounded up the middle. Shortstop Dick Schofield moved toward second base, caught the ball and flipped it to Rob Wilfong, who touched second, forcing Brewer. “One of the best plays I’ve seen all year,” Mauch said.
Forster was in a playful mood afterward. “He gave up three runs, and you’re talking to him,” he said, gesturing toward McCaskill.
This was a happy clubhouse. Five straight wins does that. But earlier in the evening, there was reason to believe this was a game destined for four hours and offensive records.
“It didn’t look like it was going to be a 4-3 game,” Mauch said, “14-13, maybe.”
Said Corbett: “If you weren’t looking at the scoreboard, you’d swear that’s what the score was.”
And with good reason. The Royals had 13 hits in all, while the Angels added 9. Angel center fielder Gary Pettis, fresh from his recent pre- pregame batting practices with hitting coach Moose Stubing, went 3 for 3, including a single, a double and a triple. He also walked, which is sort of hitting for the cycle. And left fielder Brian Downing, who said he changed his batting style “completely” four days ago, added three hits and two runs batted in. “It’s completely opposite of what I’ve done all year.”
Watching from the Royal bench was Bo Jackson, the Heisman Trophy winner/outfielder from Auburn, who was signed by Kansas City earlier in the day. Royal Manager Dick Howser may have preferred to see Jackson in left field, where the creative Lonnie Smith resides during games. Smith, when playing on the cushiony Royals Stadium artificial surface, has a knack of turning every ball hit his way into a mystery: Will he catch it or not?
Smith was at it again Saturday night. With one out in the first inning, Schofield lined a ball toward left-center. Smith broke toward the fence, timed his jump and then watched as the ball thumped against the wall padding for a double. Schofield scored when Downing bounced a line drive off the carpet--and off Smith’s face. Doug DeCinces followed with a double that just nicked the right-field foul line. George Hendrick added a soft line-drive single to left that scored Downing and DeCinces and gave the Angels a 3-0 lead.
McCaskill promptly handed three runs back. With one out, Smith, no slouch with a bat, tripled to right-center. Rudy Law grounded a ball into left that scored Smith. George Brett contributed to the rally by singling to center, moving Law to second. Fine, said designated hitter Jorge Orta, who singled to left, scoring Law. Frank White did the same thing, this time scoring Brett and tying the score, 3-3. Balboni struck out, and Jim Sundberg flied to center to end the inning.
The Angels scored once more in the second as the hits came easily and often. Pettis doubled with one out and scored two batters later when Downing singled to left. The inning ended when Downing was forced at second on a fielder’s choice by DeCinces.
Manager Gene Mauch kept rookie Wally Joyner out of the starting lineup Saturday. It was the first game Joyner hasn’t started, a span of 66 games. Joyner fell below the .280 mark Friday night (he’s hitting .277) and is in the midst of a 12-for-63 (.190) June slump. “When you consider all things: the little stomach problem he’s had, a little hot weather, the fact that he’s played 16 months in a row, it seemed like a logical move,” Mauch said. It turns out that Joyner’s stomach problem is a result of food poisoning he received during an early June road trip to Cleveland. The food poisoning, Joyner said, caused him to leave two games with stomach cramps. “I feel all right,” he said. “I’m starting to get my strength back.” . . . Joyner said he doesn’t think the virus caused by the food poisoning is the sole reason for his recent difficulties. As for the day off, Joyner said, “I don’t care, it shouldn’t bother me and it won’t bother me. I welcome a day off. I’ve been playing for a while, been playing for a long time. I know Gene feels I need a day off. Whatever.” . . . In Joyner’s place at first base was Bobby Grich, who occasionally played there last year and took turns at the position during spring training. It is his first appearance there this season. “I broke spring training thinking I’d be playing there against left-handers,” he said. “Then Joyner started doing everything asked of him.” Grich said the night off will be good for Joyner. “Mentally it just rejuvenates you to take a day off,” he said. “It just relaxes you a bit.” Joyner relaxed until the eighth inning, when he pinched-hit for Grich. He walked. . . . Mauch said he’s “getting closer” to making a decision about a starting pitcher for Tuesday. He also said he’ll hear from pitcher John Candelaria, who is in New York for the funeral of his stepfather, this morning or Monday morning. Candelaria is expected back in Anaheim Monday. . . . Jack Howell remained at third base Saturday night. Doug DeCinces, who didn’t play Friday evening, was the designated hitter.