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Finley Playing Down His All-Star Season

Times Staff Writer

Chuck Finley is great, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s tall, he’s got 10 victories and he might just have nailed down a spot on the All-Star pitching staff with his 2-1 complete-game victory over the Texas Rangers Wednesday night.

And he doesn’t care. At least he says he doesn’t care.

“It’s not like I’m going to run out and buy a paper tomorrow to see if I’m on the team,” he said.

Finley had just recorded his eighth complete game of the season, limiting the Texas Rangers to five hits and one run. He’s 10-6, being heralded as one of the best young left-handers in baseball and when the All-Star pitching staff is announced today, Finley might hear his name called.

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But he doesn’t care.

“If I walk in here (Angel clubhouse) and they tell me I made the team I’ll jump up and down for a few minutes and that will be it,” Finley said. “But I’ll jump up and down if Bert (Blyleven) makes it or Kirk (McCaskill) or anyone else on our team. I don’t think much about it, and I don’t see much use in talking about it.”

Well, Angel Manager Doug Rader apparently did. Asked if an All-Star selection was in Finley’s near future, Rader said: “I would certainly like to think so. He’s thrown well enough to make it.”

Finley still doesn’t care, really.

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“Being on the All-Star team would be nice,” Finley said. “But I won’t fell heartbroken if I don’t make it.”

Rader had watched his team be absolutely hammerlocked for seven innings by the incredible dancing knuckleballs of the Rangers’ Charlie Hough.

Hough allowed four hits through seven innings. The Angels didn’t get a runner to third base until the seventh. Brian Downing singled with two outs and Chili Davis followed with another single that moved Downing to third. But Tony Armas grounded into a force play.

“Charlie’s tough, always has been,” Rader said. “He gets guys out. You can’t ask for more than that. But Chuck was able to match him pitch for pitch. When your pitcher can do that it gives everyone hope.”

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Angel hopes became reality in the eighth. With Jack Howell running from first on a hit-and-run play, Dick Schofield hit a ball to the gap in right-center. Texas center fielder Cecil Espy and right fielder Ruben Sierra closed quickly on the ball and both appeared able to catch it.

But at the last second, each hesitated, the ball fell, then the outfielders fell, Howell scored the tying run and Schofield slid into third with a triple.

Jeff Russell replaced Hough and gave up a sacrifice fly to Johnny Ray, which gave the Angels, and Finley, the victory.

“Chuck really kept us in this game,” Rader said.

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Finley finished the game by getting two groundouts and a strikeout in the ninth.

“I take more pride in that (finishing the game) than the other stuff,” Finley said. “I like to finish what I start, and I feel confident these days that I can.”

Which, of course, is quite a change from last season when Finley struggled through a 9-15 season. But Wednesday, he outdueled Hough, who has had some hard luck in Anaheim.

Remember 1986, when Hough lost a no-hitter in ninth against the Angels, and eventually lost the game by throwing two wild pitches.

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“It seems like I always run into someone else who’s pitching a gem,” Hough said. “He (Finley) threw a great game.”

Hough only allowed five hits but still dropped to 5-9.

Everything is going right lately for Finley. Recovering from a four-game losing streak, Finley has won his past three starts, all complete games.

“We can’t ask anymore of Chuck Finley these days,” said Johnny Ray.

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Well, how about asking for an All-Star spot?


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