Mike Witt pitched a good game in recording his seventh win Saturday. But he wouldn't have gotten the victory without a little help from his friend, Ruppert Jones.
Jones hit a leadoff homer in the 10th inning to give the Angels a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Anaheim and enable him to keep an appointment with his three kids. They had plans to go to Knott's Berry Farm after the game.
The left fielder also provided some help defensively. With the White Sox leading, 1-0, in the seventh inning, Chicago shortstop Ozzie Guillen singled to left, and it looked for a moment as if Jerry Royster would score from second. Not on Jones' arm. He fired a bullet to catcher Bob Boone that kept Royster frozen at third.
Jones' homer came when Witt needed it most, since Witt wouldn't be pitching the 11th. And it came when Jones' kids--Flynn, Gabrielle and Ranon--needed it most. After all, it was past 3 o'clock, and Knott's doesn't stay open all night.
Said Witt: "Candy (Candelaria) was talking to me and telling me I was coming out when Ruppert stepped up to hit. Then he was yelling at Ruppert to hit the home run.
"When I saw Ruppert hit it, I sort of congratulated Candy for calling it, but eventually I got around to Ruppert."
Jones also homered in each of the last two games he started, on May 28 and 29.
After Saturday's game, Jones said he wasn't looking to put reliever Bob James' second pitch, a fastball, into the right-field bleachers.
"I wasn't looking for a home run at all," he said. "I was the leadoff hitter, and I was just trying to get on base."
White Sox Manager Jim Fregosi wasn't expecting a home run, either. After all, James had allowed no runs and just seven hits in his last 10 outings. He had had six saves and a win in seven appearances from May 17-May 29. But James didn't get past one batter Saturday.
Said Fregosi: "Ruppert Jones hit it out of the ballpark. That's it."
The home run, Jones' fourth, came in only his 43rd at-bat this season. He started Saturday because Angel Manager Gene Mauch wanted to rest Brian Downing.
The homer was Jones' only hit in four at-bats, raising his batting average four points to .209. It was Jones' first game-winning RBI of the season.
The Angels' other run came when designated hitter Mark Ryal, another nonregular, homered in the seventh to tie the game at 1-1.
Jones, 32 and a 10-year major league veteran, said he doesn't expect his status as a part-time player to suddenly change.
And he seemed upset by a reporter's reference to speculation last winter that he would be among the veterans not re-signed by the team.
"I don't expect anything, I just come out here and do my work," Jones said. When pushed about his role, he added: "I really don't know what to expect. I'm just looking to win ballgames, for us, as a team."
After telling a batboy to tell his wife that he would be out in 10 minutes, Jones continued. He said there was little difference in starting a game than in stepping in as a pinch-hitter.
"When you prepare yourself, you prepare yourself to play, that's it," he said. "You have to be ready. . . . That's the name of the game, you play to win. We got good pitching today. If we keep pitching the way we are, we're going to start winning a few more ballgames."