One need only examine the ways Mike Kingery and John Moses spent their afternoons Sunday in Anaheim Stadium to understand what is meant by the words Baseball is a funny game .
Kingery began a day in the hot sun in grand style, perhaps accomplishing more with a single swing than he ever had before. Moses began it on the bench, hoping the 30 or so relatives and friends he left tickets for would understand that this wasn't what he had in mind.
In the end, both players would have a significant say in the outcome of the Seattle Mariners' 5-4 victory over the Angels in front of 28,318 sun-soaked spectators. Kingery's contribution traveled some 375 feet, Moses' less than 10. But guess which one was the game winner? Funny game is right.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the first inning, Kingery sent a 3-2 fastball from the Angels' Kirk McCaskill over the right-field wall for:
A) The first grand slam of his major league career.
B) The Mariners' first grand slam of the season.
C) His career high for RBIs in one game.
For seven innings, it appeared as if one swing would be all the Mariners would need to snap the Angels' four-game winning streak. Then, the Angels came along and tied it in the eighth and Moses, who figured his entire day would be spent in the dugout, had to come through in a squeeze.
According to Seattle Manager Dick Williams, the only reason Moses came into the game in the bottom of the eighth was because starting center fielder Donnell Nixon came out after complaining of dizziness. "He had taken some medication and apparently he didn't eat, so it was getting to him," Williams said.
Said Moses with a smile: "I owe the whole day to the trainer."
Moses, a former Western High School bench ornament and Golden West College star, came to the plate with one out and runners on second and third and the game tied, 4-4. After taking a ball, Moses dropped a bunt down the first-base line, squeezing David Valle home with the winning run.
Moses only shook his head and laughed at the idea that Williams had put him into the game to give him a chance to play in front of his family and friends. Players know Williams more for his measures of discipline than his acts of generosity.
Moses--once Seattle's starting center fielder-- has spent more time in the dugout than on the field recently. "I'm never content with sitting the bench," he said. "I did it for three years at Western High School. I didn't really get a chance to play until I went to Golden West."
But Williams is hoping that a little time on the bench will do Moses some good. "He got the game-winning hit today and I haven't even been using him lately," he said. "I haven't been using Kingery much either, and we got results today. It's not bad to make guys a little hungry. What we're trying to do is be a better ballclub. I don't care what the players think."
Kingery has found himself in a similar predicament, but said he has come to terms with it.
After striking out Nixon and Phil Bradley to open the game, McCaskill got ahead of Alvin Davis 0-2 before giving up a sharp single to center. He then walked Jim Presley and Ken Phelps and threw three straight balls to Kingery. Kingery was given the take sign until the count went to 3-2.
"That's good in a way," he said. "A lot of times when you get to 3-0 or 3-1 you try to muscle up and hit it deep. At 3-2, you're just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere."
With a full count and the bases loaded, McCaskill had little margin for error. Kingery got the fastball he was looking for and pulled it into the right-field stands, giving Seattle a 4-0 lead.
"If (McCaskill) throws me a curveball at the knees, he probably strikes me out," he said. "But he can't afford to walk me in that situation."
So it was that an educated guess and a squeeze bunt from a guy who wasn't supposed to play gave the Mariners a victory Sunday afternoon. Funny game.