The paths of Dan Petry, Jack Lazorko and Eric King crossed again Friday night in Anaheim Stadium. Strange how the often winding and bumpy roads of professional baseball careers can lead three men to one busy intersection, where each has a hand--if not an arm--in the outcome of a game.
Example: the pitchers of influence in Friday night's game between the Angels and Detroit Tigers. Jack Lazorko started for the Angels, Dan Petry for the Tigers.
Last Aug. 19, Petry was reactivated from the disabled list after recovering from arthroscopic elbow surgery. The man he replaced on the Tigers' active roster was Lazorko. Lazorko was sent to the Tigers' Triple-A affiliate in Nashville, which is where he began the 1986 season.
Nashville happens to be where Eric King began in 1986. King came to the Tigers in October 1985, in a six-player trade with the San Francisco Giants. Detroit parted with pitchers Juan Berenguer and Scott Medvin and catcher Bob Melvin. In return, the Tigers got King, pitcher Dave LaPoint and a catcher named Matt Nokes.
In 1987, Nokes would become the Tigers' starting catcher and the kind of hitter Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson has all but compared to Roy Hobbs.
In 1986, King would be voted the Tigers' rookie of the year after compiling an 11-4 record with 3 saves and 3 complete games.
Friday night, King returned to the site of his first major league save and reeled in a game that looked well on its way to getting away from Petry. The Tigers scored five runs off Lazorko in the first, but the Angels responded with three in the second before Anderson gave Petry an early hook with runners on first and third.
"He just didn't have it," Anderson said later. "It happens. If you go out there often enough, you'll take your lumps."
Anderson brought in King, who got Devon White to look at a called third strike to end the inning. He retired the next five hitters and, with the help of two double plays, held the Angels without a run until Wally Joyner led off the eighth with a homer into the right-field seats.
Willie Hernandez worked the ninth to close out a 9-4 victory for the Tigers, giving King--who leads Detroit with six saves--the victory, improving his record to 4-7. He struck out four and walked four, and, other than Joyner's home run, allowed only one ball to be hit out of the infield.
Afterward, Anderson spoke as though he has come to expect this type of outing from King. "He had a good fastball and a decent breaking ball," he said. "He was a little wild occasionally, but he threw the ball good."
Said King of the Angels: "Their lineup is tough. . . . I just pitched good tonight. That's what I had to do, because they're a hot team right now."
Lazorko, King's one-time teammate in Nashville, got the loss. King said he didn't have much time to get acquainted with Lazorko in the minors.
Baseball doesn't always give players enough time to form friendships, but it does have a strange way of bringing them back together.