Seventh-Inning Stretch Is Given a New Meaning
For a couple of hours Monday night, the 23,710 in attendance at Anaheim Stadium were wondering if they might be witnesses to a no-hitter.
Midway through the seventh inning, they probably thought they were going to see baseball’s first no-outer.
For five innings, Toronto right-hander Jim Clancy held the Angels without a hit. Mark McLemore ended Clancy’s bid for baseball history with a ground ball single with one out in the sixth.
But the Blue Jays weren’t finished flirting with the record book. In the seventh, they looked as if they might turn in baseball’s first “all-hitter” inning. The first nine Toronto batters reached base safely. Seven runs scored and the Blue Jays were rolling to a 12-0 victory.
A not-so-brief synopsis of The Inning That (Almost) Wouldn’t Die:
--Things got off to an ominous start when second baseman Mike Sharperson singled and right fielder Devon White did his impersonation of Mark Ryal, whose ninth-inning error Sunday helped the Baltimore Orioles beat the Angels, 3-2. The ball bounced in front of White and then skipped past him as Sharperson took second.
--Tony Fernandez lined left-hander Chuck Finley’s next pitch down the right-field line for a double that scored Sharperson.
--Pinch-hitter Cecil Fielder walked.
--Lloyd Moseby hit a grounder to shortstop. Dick Schofield fielded it cleanly and then threw it clean by third baseman Doug DeCinces. Fernandez scored, Fielder took third and Moseby second.
--George Bell lined a single to left, scoring Fielder and Moseby.
--The fifth batter of the inning, Jesse Barfield, doubled into the right-field corner. Bell, mercifully, stopped at third.
--With the crowd screaming for a pitching change, Willie Upshaw helped their cause. He slammed a shot into the gap in right-center that one-hopped the wall. Bell and Barfield walked home and pitching coach Marcel Lachemann walked to the mound. Right-hander Bryan Harvey, who has been with the Angels just three days, got the dubious honor. Two of his warm-up pitches went all the way to the backstop, providing the fans with some comic relief, if none of the other variety.
--Harvey walked catcher Ernie Whitt.
--Third baseman Kelly Gruber, the ninth batter of the inning, singled to center. Toronto was trying to play the polite guest. Third base coach John McLaren held Upshaw at third when he could have scored easily.
--With the bases loaded, Harvey reverted to warm-up form. His wild pitch allowed Upshaw to score and Whitt and Gruber to move up 90 feet.
--The second time around was not nearly as beautiful for the Blue Jays’ lineup, though. Sharperson grounded to short. Fernandez flied to right. And Fielder flied to left.
A regular 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 inning.
“The obvious rationale is that this game was a perfect time for something like that to happen,” said Angel Manager Gene Mauch, running a hand through his already-gray hair. “If we had pitched a shutout, we’d still be out there.”
For a while, it appeared the seventh inning might go on all night, too.