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Harvey Making His Case : Angel Reliever Earns 14th Save, Looks More Like AL’s Top Rookie

Times Staff Writer

Bryan Harvey insists he’s not even thinking about who’s going to be named the American League rookie of the year. However, before Friday night’s game against Boston, he was wondering who would be voting for the award.

Just curious, of course.

A few hours later, Harvey continued his on-the-field bid for the honor, picking up his 14th save. He allowed two hits and no runs in two innings of relief as the Angels beat the Red Sox, 3-2, in front of 29,325 at Anaheim Stadium.

“I’m just trying to keep putting up the good numbers,” said Harvey, whose earned-run average is 2.04. “What happens after the season happens.”

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Harvey’s main competition is coming from Oakland shortstop Walt Weiss and Chicago starter Melido Perez. Weiss, who is hitting .242 with 3 homers and 30 RBIs, is being touted by Oakland Manager Tony La Russa as a key to the Athletics’ season because he has solidified their infield. Weiss has made 14 errors.

Perez is 11-8 with a 4.21 ERA for the sixth-place White Sox.

Harvey, a soft-spoken, 25-year-old Southern gentleman who was discovered in a semipro game in North Carolina, isn’t about to do any campaigning. But that won’t stop Manager Cookie Rojas from shouting his praises from the rooftops.

“I think Bryan should get it,” Rojas said. “The kid in Oakland has played a lot of games (120), sure, but when Harvey became our stopper, we were 19 games out of first. And he’s the reason we are (three games) over .500 now.

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“I don’t want to take anything away from Weiss. He’s a hell of a defensive player. But when you look at the individuals and what they’ve done to help their teams, I think Harvey should get it, for sure.”

Harvey got another endorsement Friday night, from a less-biased--not to mention unexpected--source. Boston Manager Joe Morgan said after the game that “Harvey’s relief pitching was the reason they won.”

Rojas signaled for Harvey in the eighth to relieve starter Chuck Finley, who had scattered seven hits in seven innings. Harvey yielded a leadoff single to Ellis Burks, but he struck out Larry Parrish and got Jim Rice to ground into a double play.

In the ninth, he gave up another leadoff single, this time to pinch hitter Todd Benzinger, who had hit Harvey’s first offering about 400 feet, but foul down the right-field line. Harvey got the next three batters to fly out to end the game.

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“I felt pretty good tonight,” Harvey said. “I had been struggling for a while, but I think I’m getting back on track. My fastball was OK. My arm’s been getting a little tired, but I’ve been on a weight-training program all year, and hopefully that will carry me through.

“I’ve got to have the fastball to set up my forkball, so even if the fastball’s not much, I’ve got to throw it. The key tonight was getting Rice to hit that ground ball for the big double play and getting the last three batters to pop the ball in the air.”

Harvey has managed to come up with just what he’s needed often this year, and in some ways he has gotten a great deal more than he expected.

“It’s been a dream season,” he said. “I never expected to be the Angels stopper this season.”

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So, whether or not he’s got a trophy at the end, Bryan Harvey will consider this a season to remember.


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