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Brown Comes Up, but Angels Shut Down, 4-2 : Newly Recalled Outfielder Has Interesting Night in Team’s Loss to Red Sox

Times Staff Writer

Mike Brown knew what the phone call he received Wednesday night in Edmonton meant--a return to the Angels and the major leagues, another long-awaited stab at the bright lights and the big city.

Thursday night, however, Brown could have done without the bright lights.

Making his first appearance in a big league game since 1986, Brown encountered a mixed bag of results during the Angels’ 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Anaheim Stadium.

In his first two at-bats, Brown had a double and a single. But in the sixth inning, he grounded into a double play and lapsed into an outfield misplay that led directly to a Red Sox run.

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With the score 3-2 and Boston’s Jody Reed on first base with two outs, Rich Gedman laced a sinking line drive to left field, where Brown was stationed. Losing track of it in the lights, Brown had the ball bounce off his left wrist and brush past his head before rolling to the warning track.

The play was scored a hit, although it could have been an error and should have been an out. Because of it, Reed was able to score from first base on the play, and the Red Sox had one more run to hand their bullpen tandem of Bob Stanley and Lee Smith.

Splitting the final four innings between them, Stanley and Smith retired the Angels without a hit, preserving the victory for Wes Gardner (6-4) and moving Boston within one game of the first-place Detroit Tigers in the American League East.

While the Red Sox arrived in Anaheim with their sights trained on the Tigers, Brown returned to town with more modest aims. He was seeking a new start with the Angels, for whom he played between 1983 and 1985, and was hopeful of turning this September into an audition for next April.

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Day 1 of the comeback got Brown quickly reacquainted with the treacherous lights into which Anaheim Stadium left fielders have to squint.

“They are notorious,” Brown said. “I can still recall Brian Downing having his errorless streak ended because of those lights.”

Thursday night provided a flashback, so to speak, for Brown.

“I came in on the ball,” he said, “and I got a bead on it. Then, the last 10 feet, I put my glove up to catch it and . . . nothing. It hit me in the wrist and skidded by me.”

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Reed went on to score the Red Sox’s fourth run of the inning, culminating a rally that erased the 2-0 lead Wally Joyner gave the Angels with his two-run home run in the fifth inning.

Dwight Evans opened the top of the sixth with a single against Angel starter Terry Clark (6-3) and moved to third on two infield outs. From there, he scored on a single to center field by Todd Benzinger.

Then, Clark hung an 0-and-2 pitch to Larry Parrish, which Parrish sent into the left-field seats for home run No. 10 and a 3-2 Boston lead.

After Reed walked, Brown stared into the lights--and the glare produced a run-scoring double for Gedman and a 4-2 lead.

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“That ball in the lights can happen with anyone,” Angel Manager Cookie Rojas said with a shrug. “Brown still had a good night offensively.”

And offense is primarily the reason Brown is here. After having his triple-A contract purchased from Detroit by the Angels in mid-July, Brown batted .347 with 3 home runs and 21 RBIs in 33 games with Edmonton.

“I feel real good at the plate right now,” said Brown, who hit a ground-rule double in the second inning and a single in the fourth. “And I have been feeling good in the field. . . .

“This game is a series of split-second reactions, and tonight, a split-second in the lights was the difference on that ball.”

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Brown has a pretty good idea of how he will start Day 2 of his second go-round with the Angels.

“I’m going to get to the park early and work on my fielding,” he said.

Angel Notes

Mike Brown noted the difference between triple-A and the big leagues when four reporters approached him for a pregame interview. “We don’t have four reporters the whole season in triple-A,” Brown said with a grin. Thursday marked Brown’s first visit to the Angel clubhouse since August 1985, when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the deal that brought John Candelaria and George Hendrick to the Angels. Since then, Brown has been released by Pittsburgh, Atlanta and the Chicago White Sox before Detroit sold his minor league contract to the Angels July 14. That kind of travel, Brown admitted, tends to change a player’s outlook. “My attitude’s a lot different now,” he said. “When I came up, I was striving to get out there and play every day and become a great player in the league. Now, I’ve adjusted to the thinking that I have to play a role. When you’re younger, you don’t have the mind-set for that. But here, I can pinch-run, pinch-hit, play defense. I’ll do whatever they need.”

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The Angels’ publicity staff interrupted Thursday’s game to announce that Minnesota Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek had been named American League player of the month and recite his August statistics: .370 batting average, 40 hits in 108 at-bats, 7 home runs and 23 RBIs. The point? To protest, ever so subtly, Hrbek’s selection over Angel outfielder Tony Armas, who finished August with a .386 batting average (32 for 83), 8 home runs and 19 RBIs.


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