The Angel pitching staff has been taking a beating lately. Until Monday night, it wasn’t a matter of bruised earned-run averages, though. They were winning, yet still experiencing the agony of the feet, shins and ankles.
Starter Chuck Finley became the third Angel pitcher in four days to be hit with a batted ball, but the Blue Jays did more damage to Angel pitches than pitchers in an 8-1 victory in front of 24,430 at Anaheim Stadium.
Toronto scored four runs off Finley, whose departure was hastened in the sixth by a sharp grounder off the bat of Tony Fernandez that struck him on the inside of the right ankle. Fernandez, the first batter of the inning, subsequently scored to break a 1-1 tie.
Before Finley hobbled off, however, Kelly Gruber and George Bell also had crossed the plate and then the Blue Jays began to batter the Angel bullpen. Toronto finished the game with 15 hits.
“Chuck’s ankle is fine. We took him out because he lost his composure,” Manager Doug Rader said. “He’s going through a tough time, but it appeared he was trying to win two games in one outing.”
Finley, who joins Bryan Harvey and Greg Minton on the Angel hit list, was examined by team physician Dr. Lewis Yocum. The injury was diagnosed as a contusion, and Finley should be able to make his next start. Harvey took a shot on his right foot Friday, and Minton was struck in the right shin Saturday.
Rader also exited early, after being ejected by home plate umpire Al Clark. With two on in the eighth, Clark called Devon White out on strikes and quickly waved the Angel center fielder toward the dugout when he began to protest. Rader rushed from the dugout to argue, and quickly earned his first ejection of the season.
“A player has a right to voice his objection and it’s up to the umpire to take it for a while and then get on with the game,” Rader said. “What’s Devo supposed to do? Go right back to the dugout with his tail between his legs?”
That’s pretty much how the Angels went in the eighth. Failing to take a cue from his riled manager, Wally Joyner meekly grounded into a double play to end the threat.
Finley (7-6) is 0-4 this month, but his performance hardly qualifies as a classic June swoon. White’s fourth-inning solo homer was the only run the Angels have scored in the last 29 1/3 innings with Finley pitching.
Finley, who had pitched into the seventh inning or later in 11 of his first 13 starts, didn’t last that long Monday. But who knows how things would have turned out had he been able to avoid Fernandez’s grounder.
“Chuck is going through a very frustrating time,” Rader said. “It would help if we got him a few runs, that’s for sure, but it’s part of the education process.”
The Blue Jays scored in the third inning, but they did not look powerful. Kevin Batiste led off with a bunt. Finley fielded the ball cleanly but then whirled and fired wildly to first. Batiste advanced to second. Nelson Liriano sacrificed and Junior Felix lined out to center to score Batiste and give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.
Toronto starter Dave Stieb (7-3) did not allow a hit in the first three innings, but the Angels had their first hit--and first run--in the fourth when White hit his first pitch over the right-center field fence to tie the score.
But the Blue Jays knocked Finley out in the sixth. Fernandez hit the shot off Finley’s ankle and then White appeared to misjudge Gruber’s line drive to left-center. White took a bad angle in his attempt to cut off the ball and it skipped past him and bounded to the wall. Fernandez scored and Gruber jogged to second.
Bell followed with a double down the left-field line to score Gruber and one out later, Manny Lee singled to center to score Bell. That was it for Finley, who gave way to Dan Petry.
Petry gave up three consecutive hits--including Felix’s two-run homer into the second deck in right-center--without getting an out in the seventh.
And by the time Willie Fraser was summoned, the Blue Jays led, 6-1, and were on their way to their first victory in seven games against the Angels.
Fraser didn’t exactly restore order. Fernandez took second on a passed ball and scored on Bell’s single off the glove of shortstop Dick Schofield. Pat Borders singled to right, and Lee hit a ground-rule double that scored Bell to make it 8-1.
Toronto, which sent 10 batters to the plate, left the bases loaded.
“I think everyone knew we hadn’t beaten them this year,” Toronto Manager Cito Gaston said. “We didn’t talk about it, but we all knew it. This time, we got good pitching, good hitting and good defense.”
It was good enough for a victory.
Tony Armas, who has been on the disabled list since May 16 with a strained left hamstring, was reinstated Monday and outfielder Dante Bichette was optioned to triple-A affiliate Edmonton. Bichette, whose surprising numbers this spring (.388 with four homers and 14 RBIs) convinced Manager Doug Rader to include him on the 24-man, opening-day roster, had only one hit in his last 16 at-bats and his average had slipped to .195. Bichette said he had been anticipating the move for “two or three weeks,” but that didn’t seem to lessen the blow. “I guess it’s for the best,” he said.
Rader said that a number of factors--not the least of which is Claudell Washington’s success against left-handed pitching--have diminished Bichette’s playing time. “We originally thought that if we could get Dante 200 to 250 at-bats, being up here would be a bigger plus than having him play every day in triple-A,” Rader said. “But I don’t see how in the world we can get him that many in this situation. He’s way out of sync at the plate and the only thing you can forecast is more of the same. And that’s counter productive. Now, if we have to press him into service because of an injury, he’ll be better prepared.” . . . Armas said he feels good but doesn’t want to play first base anymore because “I stretch or pull a muscle on every play.” He needn’t worry. “Tony’s reflexes aren’t suited to first base,” Rader said. “We’re going to keep him out in the patch (outfield) from now on.”