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Fraser Is a Hit in 7-2 Win : Rangers’ Fletcher Upset When Winged Not Once, but Twice

Times Staff Writer

Of the 101 pitches Willie Fraser delivered during the Angels’ 7-2 victory over the Texas Rangers Friday night, 99 were better than the ones he threw to Scott Fletcher in the third and seventh innings.

But those were the two that made the most impact, so to speak.

Fletcher had missed the Rangers’ last two games because of a bruised left elbow sustained when the Angels’ Mike Cook hit him with a pitch last Saturday. Upon his return to the Texas lineup, Fletcher was in no mood for any more bodily harm.

But Fraser got him twice in four at-bats--both times in the left hand--for a hitting percentage of .500. After the first, Fletcher angrily flung his bat to the ground and hurled invective toward Angel catcher Bob Boone. After the second, Fletcher had to leave the game for X-rays on his left thumb.

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And by the time the remaining Rangers and Angels had completed this encounter before 25,453 at Anaheim Stadium, Fraser would argue with home-plate umpire Ken Kaiser, Boone would argue with Kaiser, Kaiser would issue warnings to both teams and Boone would see three high-and-inside fastballs from Mitch Williams during his final at-bat.

On this night, the war of words was certainly more interesting than the skirmish on the field.

Fraser was quietly plugging away at his 12th victory, working with an early 4-0 lead, when he hit Fletcher on a 2-2 pitch with two outs in the third. This disgusted Fletcher, but also peeved Fraser and Boone, who felt Fletcher leaned into the pitch.

“I was arguing that he made no attempt to get out of the way,” Boone said. “The ball was inside, but he dove into the ball. Both of the balls that hit him were closer to the plate that the ones Williams threw me in the eighth.”

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When Fraser hit Fletcher again in the seventh, this time on an 0-2 pitch, Kaiser gave Fraser a warning--barely beating Angel Manager Cookie Rojas to the mound. There, Rojas swiftly changed pitchers.

An inning later, Boone came to bat against Williams. Three straight pitches sent Boone bending backwards three times before Kaiser completed the cycle and issued a warning to Williams.

Boone said he wasn’t surprised by anything he saw during that eighth-inning at-bat.

“With Williams pitching, nothing’s surprising,” Boone deadpanned.

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Added Rojas: “Williams is just a kid and he’s a little wild. There was no reason to retaliate. We certainly weren’t trying to hit anybody. What reason would we have for putting extra people on base?”

Fraser simply shrugged it off as a case of fickle control.

“You can kind of tell it wasn’t intentional,” he said. “I was struggling with my control all night. When you’re ahead of the count, 0-2, why hit somebody?”

That can happen, from time to time, with a young pitcher on the mound and a game out of control from the first inning on.

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