Chuck Finley tested his sprained toe Wednesday afternoon, throwing off an imaginary mound in the outfield and fielding bunts during a pregame workout. His toe responded favorably, and he termed his progress "encouraging."
A couple of hours later, however, reality set in at Anaheim Stadium, and discouraging was the best word to describe the Angels' status.
Dan Petry, starting in place of Finley, had to throw off a real mound to real hitters, and his fielding prowess wasn't a factor. Veteran Robin Yount and rookie George Canale each hit a two-run homer off Petry as Milwaukee defeated the Angels, 7-4, before a crowd of 22,459.
Finley, who has already missed two weeks, may be on the road to recovery. But it's probably too late for the Angels, who are in need of a major turnaround if they are to keep their division title hopes alive.
In fact, the Brewers might have pulled the plug Wednesday night, considering that the Oakland Athletics had already won in the afternoon. The third-place Angels trail the A's by 5 1/2 games with only 23 games remaining. If Oakland wins half of its final 22 games, the Angels would have to win 17 to tie.
"It's extremely important to stay optimistic, to go out and do the best job on a day-to-day basis," Manager Doug Rader said. "It's fashionable to become disheartened early, but to our people's credit, they don't seem to give in to that kind of thinking."
While they may not be conceding anything yet, there are some subtle signs of frustration in the Big A these days. Rader, who has made a determined effort to say all the right things all season long, let a bit of paranoia escape before the game when a television broadcaster mentioned that some members of the media already had written off his team.
"They wrote us off on day one," Rader said. "They didn't give us a ghost of a chance. And now, most of those people are probably happy because they can say they were right all along.
"But we don't see it that way. We're only four games behind in the loss column."
Make it five.
What the Angels did see was their chances for the American League West title dwindle Wednesday night when a quartet of Angel pitchers couldn't make up for the loss of one Finley. And Brewer pitcher Chris Bosio completely stifled the Angel offense for eight innings.
A solo homer by Wally Joyner, his 14th, in the seventh was all the Angels could do against Bosio until the ninth, when they mustered a last-gasp, four-single, three-run outburst that cut the Brewers' lead to three.
Reliever Dan Plesac came in to get the last two outs and pick up his 29th save of the season. As a result, Bosio (15-9) earned his eighth victory in his last 11 decisions.
"Chuck (Finley) is having a great year, and it's certainly nice to throw him out there every fifth game," third baseman Jack Howell said. "But we've overcome a lot of other things this season, and now's the time to kick it in and let it out.
"I don't think there's anyone on this team who doesn't believe (a division title) is still attainable."
That goal slipped further from the Angels' reach, due primarily to Bosio. The second Angel batter of the game, Max Venable, dumped a fly-ball double down the left-field line, but then Bosio retired 13 in a row before Howell dropped a broken-bat single into center field in the fifth.
"It took us a long time before we were disciplined enough to stay back on his breaking ball," Rader said. "We just weren't able to get any runs early."
The Angels mounted their mini-rally in the ninth, when Venable picked up his second hit of the game--and fourth in two nights--and Claudell Washington marked his return to the lineup with a single. Joyner forced Washington, but singles by Chili Davis and Brian Downing made the Angels' inability to hold off the Brewers early in the game that much harder to bear.
"Petry made a couple of pitches early that cost him," Rader said. "He got one up to Yount and another one up to Canale."
Petry was making his 271st major league start, but only his fourth of this season. And the Brewers had him reeling before he had a chance to get comfortable.
Mike Felder led off the game with a single to left and promptly stole second. Two outs later, Yount slugged a homer to left, and Milwaukee had a 2-0 advantage. Since the All-Star break, the veteran center fielder is hitting almost .350 with eight homers and 39 RBIs.
Petry settled down and allowed only one single through the next two innings, but the Brewers went to the long ball again in the fourth to build a four-run lead, and this time, youth was served. After rookie Greg Vaughn drew a one-out walk, Canale, 24, got his first major league hit, an opposite-field shot over the wall in left-center.
Rich Monteleone came in to pitch the fifth, and Petry was left with a less-than-impressive line: four innings pitched, four hits, four runs, three walks, one strikeout and two home runs.
Monteleone gave up three consecutive singles--and the Brewers' fifth run--in the fifth. He was followed to the mound by Sherman Corbett, who surrendered two more runs in the eighth on a double by Charlie O'Brien, two ground-outs and a solo homer by shortstop Bill Spiers.
Pitcher No. 4, Greg Minton, escaped unscathed, but the game--and maybe even the season--was a lost cause by then.
The Angels acquired journeyman minor league catcher Ron Tingley Wednesday from Cleveland's triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs for a player to be named later. The move came just in time. Tingley, who played for Angel Manager Doug Rader in Hawaii (then San Diego's triple-A team), will help fill the void left by backup catcher Bill Schroeder, who is lost for the season. Schroeder underwent a diagnostic test on his sore right elbow Wednesday and will undergo arthroscopic surgery Monday to remove bone spurs. Starting catcher Lance Parrish, who has been bothered by a nagging left knee injury, will be in the hospital today, receiving diagnostic tests to determine the extent of the problem. "We're at the point that we're lucky to get (Tingley)," Rader said. "He's a so-so hitter, but he's a hell of a catcher and thrower." Tingley, 30, was drafted in the 10th round by San Diego in 1977 and made his major league debut with the Padres in 1982. His next major league appearance came last year with Cleveland. Tingley, who hit .257 with six home runs and 38 RBIs for Colorado Springs, said the trade was a dream come true.
Claudell Washington, who left the team last weekend and returned home to Orinda, Calif., for "personal reasons," rejoined the Angels Wednesday. "It was a stress-related family matter," Washington said, declining to elaborate beyond that. "I think everything's going to be OK, though." Washington, who also missed nine games in May when his daughter was seriously injured in a household accident, said he has never been through a year so fraught with off-the-field distractions. "In 16 years, I've never been through anything like this," he said. "It's been a rough season. But I'm back now and ready to go anytime they need me." Washington entered the game in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement in right field.
Left-hander Chuck Finley worked out in the outfield before Wednesday night's game, making defensive moves and fielding bunts, and said the strained toe on his left foot felt pretty good. "We wanted him to move to field balls and do quick stuff when he wouldn't have time to think to protect it," pitching coach Marcel Lachemann said. Finley passed the test and will throw off a mound again today and probably pitch batting practice soon.