After the Angels salvaged what they could of an otherwise miserable four-game series against the Oakland Athletics with a victory Monday, Manager Gene Mauch quietly hoped his team's healing process had begun.
"Bob Boone said it best," Mauch was heard saying. "This stops the bleeding."
Tuesday night, the wound was reopened. The Baltimore Orioles came into Anaheim Stadium and put the Angels right back into the emergency room with a 4-1 victory before a crowd of 25,360.
It was the Angels' fourth loss in five games in their current home stand, but the pain could be worse.
The Minnesota Twins, after winning eight of their last 10 games and extending their lead over the Angels to 5 1/2 games in the American League West, lost to the Detroit Tigers Tuesday. But that can only have a slight numbing effect on a team struggling to regain whatever it used in early July to get back into contention in baseball's equal-opportunity division.
"There have been times in the past when other teams waited around for us," Mauch said. "But we haven't got time to waste here."
The Angels sent right-hander Kirk McCaskill to the mound, hoping he could come close to duplicating the performance in his last start. That was an 8-2 win at Minnesota on Aug. 12, McCaskill's first victory in nearly three months. Instead, they got 4 shaky innings, and were bewildered by an Oriole pitcher who entered the game with a 5-8 record, a 6.43 earned-run average and a nasty habit of having his pitches land on the wrong side of outfield fences.
Baltimore right-hander Ken Dixon had given up more home runs (27) than any Oriole pitcher, and had lasted all of three innings in his last start. Against the Angels, however, Dixon could do little wrong. He pitched five scoreless innings, allowing only three hits, before leaving the game in the bottom of the sixth when his pitching shoulder tightened.
John Habyan went the rest of the way for the Orioles, neatly wrapping up a four-hitter but losing the shutout on Doug DeCinces' homer in the eighth. The effort earned Habyan his first major league save.
McCaskill's troubles began with his first pitch of the second inning, which Fred Lynn smacked off the wall in left-center field for a double. One out later, Terry Kennedy grounded a single just out of second baseman Mark McLemore's reach and into right field to score Lynn and give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
Kennedy led off the Baltimore fourth by driving an 0-and-1 pitch from McCaskill over the fence in right field to extend the Orioles' lead to 2-0. Before the inning was over, the Orioles had sent eight batters to the plate and padded their lead to 4-0. Billy Ripken, who came into the game with 19 hits in his last 50 at-bats (.380) had a run-scoring single that floated into short right field. Ripken's big brother, Cal Jr., followed with a nearly identical bloop single to drive in Mike Young.
Angel first baseman Wally Joyner watched in frustration as the Ripkens blooped their way to a more comfortable Baltimore lead. "When you get those chinkers with guys in scoring position, you're gonna win," he said.
"McCaskill had about the same stuff that their two pitchers had," Mauch said. "They were somewhat sharper than Kirk, and a helluva lot luckier. Those two Ripken hits were hard to stomach."
After watching McCaskill get Ray Knight to ground out to open the fifth, Mauch decided not to let him face Kennedy a third time and brought in left-hander Chuck Finley. "McCaskill wasn't gonna get a helluva lot stronger from there on in,." he said.
McCaskill's numbers clearly revealed a struggle: 101 pitches in 4 innings, 8 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts and 4 runs. Afterward, he was asked if this game represented a setback in his comeback from midseason elbow surgery.
"I don't want to think of it as a comeback," he said. "It's too far along now to call it that. I'm just not throwing enough strikes now.'
The Angels can only hope that McCaskill's problems--and an assortment of others--can be solved quickly. They are running out of time, and must get well soon.
Angel Notes Oriole Manager Cal Ripken will return to Maryland today for the funeral of his mother-in-law. Services are scheduled for Thursday. In Ripken's absence, Frank Robinson will manage the team for the remainder of its series against the Angels. Ripken is expected to rejoin the team Friday in Seattle. . . . Angel Manager Gene Mauch said he expects Gary Pettis to rejoin the team on Sept. 1, when the major league rosters are expanded to 40 players. "I think he'd be very important to us the last month of the season," Mauch said. "There might be days (in the remainder of August) when I'll look around for a pinch-runner or some defense and he'll be up there in Edmonton. But this is still best for everybody overall." . . . A minor inconvenience: Angel catcher Jack Fimple was called up from Triple-A affiliate Edmonton Monday to replace the injured Darrell Miller, but was uncertain of where he would end up as late as Monday afternoon. Fimple was in Tacoma awaiting the results of a bone scan on Miller's broken finger. Those results determined Fimple's next destination. "They called and told me, 'We've got one flight to Calgary and one to Orange County for you,' " Fimple said. "I waited in my hotel room. They finally called again and said, 'You're on your way to Anaheim.' They called at about 1 o'clock and said they had me on a 2 o'clock flight. The (Seattle/Tacoma) airport was about a half-hour away. The flight was delayed . . . that was the only reason I made it."