American League Playoffs Notebook : Pettis Learns to Lay Off High Fastballs--and Delivers Some Low Blows

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Times Staff Writers

In his deepest voice, Gary Pettis said, “I’ve matured.”

What he means is if Roger Clemens or Calvin Schiraldi throw him a high fastball nowadays, he leaves the bat on his shoulder.

“The main thing is getting a pitch down in the strike zone,” Pettis said after Saturday’s Angel victory over the Boston Red Sox. “I’m not a high-ball hitter. No way. Who is? The way Roger Clemens throws, it’d be foolish to think I can hit his fastball.”

Schiraldi faced Pettis in the ninth inning Saturday night with the Angels trailing, 3-1. The pitch was down, and Pettis made his low blow. It sailed and sailed and landed over Jim Rice’s head in left field. One run scored.


“I think it may have carried more than he (Rice) thought,” Pettis said. “But I hit it in an area I thought it had a chance because as hard as he (Schiraldi) throws, I imagine they were playing me down the line.”

Pettis figures patience is a virtue. He’s 7 for 14 (.500) in the series so far.

“I’m just being patient,” he said. “I try not to swing at the high fastball. It happens. Nobody’s perfect. Yes, it is maturity. I’d so so. This is my third year in the game. I always had the ability to hit, but it was a mental problem before.”

When Wally Joyner checked into St. Joseph’s Hospital, Gene Mauch had to check his depth chart for a replacement at first base. He had several options:

--Bobby Grich, who played 11 games at first during the regular season.

--Jerry Narron, who batted .333 (3 for 9) in three games against Roger Clemens this year.

--Jack Howell, a left-handed hitter who played first base at the University of Arizona.

--And George Hendrick, who had a 1986 batting average of .176 (3 for 17) against Boston prior to Game 4.

Mauch chose Hendrick.

“I’d love to be able to get Narron into the lineup against Clemens,” Mauch said. “He’s the only guy we have that hits him.

“But Hendrick has more experience playing first base than anybody (else) we have--especially experience in the league championship.”


Hendrick participated in the playoffs with Oakland in 1972 and St. Louis in 1982.

Message to Mike Port: One of the bedsheet banners hanging in Anaheim Stadium Saturday night read, “Oh Thank Heaven For No. 11. Bring Him Back in 87.”

Number 11, of course, is Doug DeCinces, whose contract ends as soon as the current Angel season does.

Saturday’s crowd of 64,223 was the second largest in AL championship series history. Anaheim Stadium also holds the all-time record--64,406, set in Game 1 of the 1982 playoffs against Milwaukee.

Mauch grabbed a catcher’s mitt and took part in the pregame festivities.

He had to, or else his mom might have spanked him.

Mauch’s 84-year-old mother, Mamie, threw out the first ball before the start of Saturday evening’s game. The ball thumped against Mauch’s chest and then settled into his mitt. A hug and a kiss followed.

Mauch said he knew nothing about the pregame plans until he recently received a call from Tom Seeberg, the Angels’ vice president of public relations.

“Do you think your mother would object to throwing out the first ball?” Seeberg said.

Ask her, Mauch said.

“My mother is a lot like her son: she’s unpredictable,” Mauch said.

Mamie Mauch turned 84 on Sept. 26, the day the Angels clinched the Western Division title against the Texas Rangers. She lives just outside Los Angeles.


“When she was 35 years old--what was I, 12?--we used to run foot races, and most of them were dead heats,” Mauch said.

Whenever possible, Mauch records Angel games on his videocassette machine. Good thing, too, since he was thrown out of Friday night’s game in the bottom of the fourth inning. He spent the final five innings pacing the tunnel next to the Angel dugout.

Afterward, Mauch returned home and stayed up until 1:45 a.m. watching the Angel victory.

“I used a little fast forward,” Mauch said. “As near as I could figure, I missed $12 million worth of commercials.”

Mauch said he also missed the replay of his ejection by first base umpire Nick Bremigan--on purpose. “That was fast-forwarded,” he said. “That’s something I knew all about.”

And about that ejection. Mauch remained a bit miffed about Bremigan’s part in his dismissal from Friday’s game. Especially annoying, Mauch said, was Bremigan’s claim that foul and abusive language was directed toward him after the play.

“I never called the man a name,” Mauch said. “I can’t understand what the hell he was doing here. I got all I can handle with two of them (umpires Terry Cooney and Rich Garcia), more than I can handle.”


Mauch also predicted that the play that caused the controversy--a squib single that hugged the first base line, an umpire somewhat out of position, a reversed call at home plate--won’t reappear soon. “You won’t see that play in the next five years,” he said. “You won’t see it again for the rest of your life.”

Shortstop Dick Schofield, who had a homer in Friday evening’s game, was a no-show for a press conference, partly in his own honor.

“Nice going, Schofield,” Mauch said shortly before the start of Saturday night’s game. “Nice going.”

Said Schofield: “I was icing down for an hour and a half.”

Times staff writers Mike Penner and Ross Newhan contributed to this story.