Angels Are Shot Down in 10th, 5-4
Sympathy for the Angels was Sparky Anderson’s postgame emotion Saturday afternoon as he reflected on the Detroit Tigers’ 5-4, 10-inning victory, more an exercise in attrition than an example of sterling baseball.
The Detroit manager had watched his club slowly, but surely, out-man an Angel team that began the day without Dick Schofield, lost Wally Joyner in the third inning and found itself playing the last two innings with the kind of infield one usually sees only in father-and-son games.
“I don’t like to go to war and be able to only shoot flares,” Anderson said. “Right now, that’s what the Angels are having to do.”
Detroit, meanwhile, won Saturday’s game before a crowd of 34,973 at Tiger Stadium with mortar fire. The Tigers shelled the outfield seats with four home runs, three reaching the upper deck and the fourth--coming off the bat of Lou Whitaker--deciding the outcome with two outs in the bottom of the 10th.
Whitaker found the second deck on a 2-and-2 pitch by Greg Minton, the Angels’ third reliever. It was only the second home run Minton has allowed as an Angel, but it was the second in two days for Whitaker.
The Tigers also received home runs from Kirk Gibson, Larry Herndon and Bill Madlock, which is not especially surprising, considering that all three came while Jerry Reuss was pitching. Reuss has now teed up eight home runs for the opposition in his last 17 innings.
“And I’ve seen every one of them,” said a disgusted Gene Mauch, the Angel manager. “Two-out home run. Two-out single and home run. Two-out home run. One-out home run. . . .
“I guess maybe I should start thinking about home runs instead of singles. It’s a lot easier to make a pitching change after a single. Home runs, I can’t do anything about. Like I’ve told you many times, the home run is a thought-remover.”
It is also a victory-remover. And a pitcher-remover. Following Madlock’s home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving the Tigers a 4-2 lead, Mauch finally got the message and replaced Reuss. Jack Lazorko worked 1 innings, Gary Lucas came in for 1 innings, and Minton pitched the final 1 innings.
In the meantime, the Angels scraped together two runs, enough for a 4-4 tie, but stranded five runners in scoring position during the last four innings. Two strikeouts by Gary Pettis helped to scuttle a promising eighth inning for the Angels and leave the bases loaded in the top of the 10th.
Allowing Pettis, a .211 hitter, to bat in two critical late-inning situations was part of the curious maneuvering by Mauch that left the Angels with an infield consisting of George Hendrick at first base, Jack Howell at second, Darrell Miller at third and Doug DeCinces at shortstop.
In case of emergency, break out this infield.
And break up your pitcher.
“I tried not to look at my infield,” Minton said with a laugh. “Luckily, I got them (the Tigers) to hit only two ground balls. And one of them was to me.”
Disaster Infield came to pass after Joyner was forced out of the game with an aggravated rib-cage injury and Mauch, faced with a 4-3 deficit, scrambled to muster a run or two in the top of the eighth inning.
First, he had Ruppert Jones pinch-hit for shortstop Gus Polidor. Two batters later, he had Mark Ryal bat for second baseman Mark McLemore. Both middle infielders were gone within minutes.
Jones reached base on an error by Whitaker and moved to second on a single by Ryal. Jones scored the tying run on an infield out by Brian Downing.
But between Jones and Ryal, Mauch failed to pinch-hit for Pettis, allowing his weakest hitter to bat for himself. The consequence was hardly a surprise--a strikeout, Pettis’ 103rd of the season.
Afterward, Mauch was asked why he left one seemingly obvious button unpushed.
“Who are you going to have me hit for him?” Mauch asked.
Someone mentioned Ryal.
“Right,” Mauch said. “It was either hit him (Ryal) for Pettis or McLemore.”
Mauch opted to replace McLemore, a move that stripped the Angels of their usual late-inning substitution for Polidor and forced DeCinces to make a cameo appearance at shortstop.
“You want a funny-looking infield or a funny-looking outfield?” Mauch said.
The implication was that the Angels were in trouble either way. And the funny-looking infield didn’t cost the Angels. Miller snared a line drive off the bat of Pat Sheridan, and Howell cleanly fielded a grounder by Matt Nokes. “Nobody made any mistakes,” DeCinces said.
But Mauch’s moves also allowed Pettis to strand a total of four runners.
For Pettis, a horrid slump somehow, some way, continues to worsen. In his last 26 at-bats, he has 2 hits and 16 strikeouts.
A reporter approached Pettis and asked if the situation had become “a nightmare.”
“I don’t give it that much thought,” Pettis said. “I take my turn when it comes and try to do the best I can.
“Hopefully, I can do something right before the end of the (bleeping) year.”
Wally Joyner went 0 for 2, including a feeble strikeout in the third inning, before soreness in his right rib cage forced him out of the game. “He wanted to go out there and keep playing, he tried to and he couldn’t,” Angel Manager Gene Mauch said. Mauch said he thought Joyner aggravated the injury Friday night when he made a leaping catch of a line drive by Darrell Evans. “If that didn’t hurt him, nothing would,” Mauch said. . . . As part of the Angels’ emergency infield, Doug DeCinces played shortstop for the first time since July 17, 1986. He didn’t have to make a play in three innings, his most difficult task being the positioning of the other infielders. “Gene just said to me, ‘You get Darrell Miller by you at third and make sure you take care of him,’ ” DeCinces said. “I placed Darrell in the right place.” DeCinces was referring to Miller’s staggering, 10th-inning grab of a line drive, a ball Pat Sheridan smashed right at him. Miller said: “It was fun. You play in an infield like that and it’s like you can escape yourself and be someone else for a while. ‘Look, I’m Brooks Robinson, right in the flesh, reincarnated.’ ” Miller laughed. “I was just hoping they wouldn’t hit another one at me.”
The travails of Jerry Reuss continued. In 5 innings, he surrendered 4 runs on 6 hits, including 3 home runs. In his last five starts, Reuss has an earned-run average of 7.77. Reuss called the recent home run binge frustrating. “If you throw strikes, you have a tendency to give up a few here and there. But three in six innings, that’s more than here and there. I made pitches right where they could hit it, plain and simple. And they crunched them, didn’t they?” . . . With the imminent return of John Candelaria, Reuss’ days as an Angel starter appear numbered. Asked about the situation, Reuss responded by pointing to Mauch’s office. “Ask him,” he said. “He’s the one who makes the decisions. I don’t pitch in games worrying about Candelaria. I don’t think anyone here does.”
Bob Boone hit his second home run of the season in the seventh inning against Detroit starter Dan Petry. It was Boone’s first road home run since last Aug. 22 at Baltimore. . . . DeCinces went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, stranding three runners in scoring position. For the season, DeCinces is batting .202 (18 for 89) with runners in scoring position. “We let a lot of chances get away today,” DeCinces said, “and I myself didn’t help.” . . . Greg Minton, on the pitch Lou Whitaker hit for the game-winning home run: “It was supposed to be a sinking fastball, but Boonie said it didn’t move one iota. I got it out over the last third of the plate and it stayed right there. I’m a sinkerball pitcher. And if it don’t sink, there’s not a whole lot you can do.”