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Yankees’ Second Team Beats Angel Replacements

Times Staff Writer

What’s the difference between the 1988 Yankees and 1988 Angels? OK, besides a few hundred points in winning percentage and six places in their respective division standings.

Both teams have suffered early-season injuries to key players, but the Yankees haven’t missed a beat while the Angels haven’t missed many chances to be beaten.

Wednesday night at Anaheim Stadium was a case in point. New York starter Charles Hudson (4-1), who came out of the bullpen and joined the rotation when Rick Rhoden was placed on the disabled list April 29, allowed just three hits in 6 innings as the Yankees defeated the Angels, 4-2, in 10 innings.

And backup catcher Joel Skinner, who is replacing the injured Don Slaught, hit a two-run homer to left in the seventh inning. Skinner was making his ninth start in place of Slaught, who suffered a groin injury May 15. Slaught was hitting .378 with 26 RBIs when he hurt himself running out a grounder against the Angels in New York.

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And then there’s Neil Allen, the much-traveled journeyman pitcher who was making only his second appearance of the year. He came away with his first victory since July 20, 1986, when he beat the Yankees while with the White Sox.

Meanwhile, representing the Angel replacement team were George Hendrick, playing left for Johnny Ray (bruised elbow); Junior Noboa, playing second in place of Mark McLemore (sore elbow), and Tony Armas, in center for Devon White (recovering from knee surgery). Hendrick, Noboa and Armas were a combined 0 for 7 Wednesday.

Hendrick did manage a sacrifice fly in the seventh when the Angels had runners on first and third and no outs.

But the Angels scored their only other run when Ray brought his swollen elbow--he was hit by a 90-plus m.p.h. fastball from Al Leiter Tuesday night--to the plate and stroked a game-tying homer to right in the ninth inning.

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“They come back to tie us, but we kept battling,” Yankee Manager Billy Martin said. “That’s one mark of a good team. The other is that we’ve been able to get help from everyone on the team when we’ve really needed it.”

Skinner hasn’t had the same impact with the bat as Slaught--he’s hitting just .143--but he has four hits in his last four games, and the Yankees have won seven of the nine games he has started.

Martin, notorious for his wont to second-guess his catchers’ pitch selection, can’t find much to complain about in that department, either. New York pitchers have allowed three runs or fewer in all but two of those nine games.

“He’s one of the smartest catchers I’ve ever had,” Martin said. “He’s starting to swing the bat better, but he’s been catching some sensational games.”

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Skinner, who hit his last home run one year and a day ago in this park, said he wasn’t surprised by the home run.

“I’m as strong as anyone on the team,” he said. “I’m just not a home-run hitter. I’ve been a little frustrated lately, but now that I’m getting a chance to play, I’m getting my timing back.”

Hudson, of course, never lost his. He made about as smooth a transition from the bullpen to the rotation as anyone could ask.

“He pitched an outstanding game,” Martin said. “He just ran out of gas.”

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The Angels, who are running on empty these days, know all about that feeling. That can’t seem to get a break . . . unless it’s an arm or a leg.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are getting game-winning performances from the players who are least expected to come through in the clutch. And that, of course, is the stuff of which champions are made.


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