The Angels' 9-8, 12-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics Wednesday wasn't so much a baseball game as a greatest hits collection, a collage of golden memories from happier, bygone days in Anaheim.
Remember 1985, when Donnie Moore in the late innings meant an automatic Angel victory or save?
Remember 1986, when the Angels could erase four-run deficits with just a few simple flicks of the bat?
And how about 1987, when Wally Joyner's swing packed pop and punch and could power baseballs into the outfield seats, sometimes two or three times in a single game?
Yes, you could have relived those cherished classics of yesteryear--and more--for just the price of a single ticket at Anaheim Stadium.
A total of 33,714 acted on the offer and got to spend almost four hours watching the Angels rally from deficits of 4-0 and 8-6 behind a pair of home runs by Joyner, setting the stage for two scoreless innings by Moore and Brian Downing's game-winning triple in the bottom of the 12th inning.
When Oakland right fielder Jose Canseco slipped while chasing Downing's opposite-field drive, enabling Joyner to score from first base, the Angels had beaten the leaders of the American League West for the second time in this three-game series, making their longest homestand of the season their best with a record of 8-5.
"To take two of three from that club means you must be playing good ball," Angel Manager Cookie Rojas said. "This is a good way to end a homestand."
It could have been better, of course, had the Angel fielders not suffered a sudden lapse of motor skills in Tuesday night's error-riddled 6-2 loss to the A's. A sweep would have pulled the Angels within 10 games of first-place Oakland. Two of three left the Angels 12 games out--not good enough, at least in the discerning eyes of Downing.
"The bottom line is that we needed to take all three of them," Downing said. "This way, we pick up only one game. The other way, we gain three. And time's running out.
"The objective is to win the pennant. At least, it's mine. If your objective is just to exist and play good, well, that's BS."
Then again, it could have been worse for the Angels. And it certainly seemed headed that way early in the afternoon, with the Angels trailing, 4-0, before their first at-bats.
Terry Clark, winner of his first three major league starts, barely staggered his way through the first inning of No. 4. By the time he had logged three outs, the A's had five hits, including a two-run double by Dave Henderson and a two-run home run by Don Baylor.
Even the outs came hard for Clark. The first occurred when Stan Javier singled to right field and was thrown out by Chili Davis while making a run for an extra base. The second came when Clark's ankles interrupted a Carney Lansford shot up the middle. Clark picked up the ball and retired Lansford at first to turn another potential hit into an out.
By the time Tony Phillips, the eighth Oakland hitter of the inning, tapped the ball into the third out, Rojas wasn't sure whether to change pitchers or stack sandbags in front of the mound.
Joyner bought Clark some time by getting back half of the runs with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. Then in his next at-bat, in the third, he delivered a three-run home run, igniting a four-run inning that presented Clark with a 6-4 advantage.
Wally World lives. Or at least, Joyner dragged it out of mothballs for one day, for old times' sake. After hitting 22 home runs in 1986 and 34 in 1987, Joyner was still able to count all his 1988 home runs on one hand--five--before taking his first cuts Wednesday.
Two swings later, he had seven. And with the run-scoring single he added in the seventh inning, Joyner finished with the first six-RBI game of his career, bringing his season total to 55.
"A lot of fun," Joyner called it. "This brought back memories from last year and the year before."
This was Joyner's seventh two-homer game as an Angel but only his first this season. He also hit three home runs in one 1987 game--as many as he had through June 19 this season.
Where have all the home runs gone?
"Bad swing," Joyner replied. "When you're swinging good and you're swinging at good pitches, you're going to drive the ball . . .
"When you've got 5 home runs in 400 at-bats, you don't think about hitting home runs. You just try to meet the ball."
Joyner took advantage of the light daytime air in Anaheim Stadium and pitcher Todd Burns. The rookie also served up Davis' 14th home run in the third inning, so Joyner was merely capitalizing on a trend.
Both Burns and Clark, rookie surprises of the American League West, were 3-0 going into the game. By the first out of the sixth inning, both were out of the game--Burns lifted after four innings, Clark being replaced after opening the sixth by allowing singles to Mark McGwire and Henderson.
In came Angel reliever Stewart Cliburn . . . and there went the Angels' lead. Cliburn walked Baylor to load the bases, gave up a ground-rule double to Terry Steinbach and surrendered a two-run single to Phillips.
Oakland led again, 8-6.
Once more, however, the Angels trudged back. Dick Schofield led off the seventh by drawing a walk from A's reliver Greg Cadaret. Devon White doubled him home. One out later, Joyner singled up the middle, and White crossed the plate for an 8-8 tie.
And there it remained through the 11th inning, courtesy of the Angels' Bryan Harvey (3 shutout innings) and the A's Eric Plunk (3 shutout innings). Moore also worked scoreless 11th and 12th innings, striking out an old nemesis named Ron Hassey along the way.
It was Hassey, remember, who first moved the Athletics into first place--and sent the Angels reeling--with his three-run home run against Moore April 20 in Oakland.
The final score of that game: A's 9, Angels 8.
This time, Moore and the Angels reversed those numbers when Jim Corsi, the A's fourth reliever of the day, walked Joyner to open the 12th and yielded a drive down the right-field line to Downing.
Joyner might have scored on the play if Canseco had fielded it cleanly. But when Canseco slipped, there would be no doubt about it.
Joyner rounded third and pulled up a couple of steps shy of home, finally touching the plate with one triumphant stomp.
"I couldn't run anymore," Joyner said. "I was too tired."
Reminiscing, 12 innings of it, can do that to a guy.
Donnie Moore's two scoreless innings of relief, enabling him to boost his record to 4-2, was a dramatic departure from his last two outings against Oakland. On April 9 in Anaheim, Moore turned a 6-4 Angel lead into an 8-6 loss by serving up a three-run home run to Mark McGwire. On April 20 in Anaheim, he turned an 8-6 Angel lead into a 9-8 loss, this time via Ron Hassey's three-run home run. "I was a different player in April," Moore said. "I wasn't feeling well, my fundamentals were off, it was cold and my back was hurting me. I was just throwing the ball up there. I had no idea where it was going. Now, I have confidence and I'm healthier. Believe me, that matters." . . . . Add Moore: In the final months of a 3-year, $3-million Angel contract, Moore admits he's now heading into a sort of salary drive. The goal, for Moore, is to be drawing a salary--somewhere--in 1989. "I don't know if I'll be back here," he said, "so I have to show someone I can still pitch."
Chili Davis had a pair of outfield assists Wednesday, throwing Stan Javier out at second base in the first inning and Dave Henderson out at second in the 10th. Javier was attempting to take an extra base after Davis bobbled his leadoff single. With his arm, Davis may have spared himself his 15th outfield error, which would have broken the Angels' single-season record. "I know I'm right at the point where my next error breaks the record," Davis said. "It can happen any time, and if it does, it does. I'm just trying to stay aggressive and keep as many runners as possible off the bases." Davis hasn't committed an error since June 28, a span of precisely one month. "Oh boy," said Davis, noting the occasion with sarcasm. "I'm so happy, I could cry."
Oakland third baseman Carney Lansford, batting just .182 since June 6, continues to hit in hard luck. Wednesday, he had two potential extra-base hits taken away by Angel center fielder Devon White and third baseman Jack Howell. White denied him with a diving, sliding catch in the second inning, and Howell leaped to snare a hard line drive in the top of the ninth. Since June 6, Lansford's average has slipped from .402 to .306.