Angels do not live on home runs and Bert Blyleven's pitching alone, after all. Just when such sustenance was seeming to run out, the Angels uncovered their most novel approach to winning yet in an 8-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Anaheim Stadium.
It will be remembered as the Saturday night flight of Devon White.
Consider how the Angels tied this game at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning:
--White singled in the Angels' fourth run and stole second.
--White stole third.
--White stole home.
Then consider how the Angels broke that tie with two out in the bottom of the eighth:
--White singled to center.
--White stole second, forcing the hand of Boston Manager Joe Morgan, who had Chili Davis intentionally walked with first base suddenly open.
--White took third when Wally Joyner singled off the glove of a diving Marty Barrett, the Red Sox's second baseman, to load the bases.
--White scored on a single to right field by Mark McLemore, a hit that also brought in Davis and Joyner and gave the Angels consecutive wins for the first time since Aug. 24-25.
For those keeping score, that's four stolen bases in one game for White, an Angel record. The steals of second, third and home in the same inning also represented an Angel first.
With Claudell Washington also stealing third base in the sixth inning--giving the Angels four steals in the inning--the Angels ended the evening with a total of five stolen bases, the main reason they were able to remain within five games of first-place Oakland in the American League West.
"What a nightmare," said Boston's Morgan. "We couldn't hold them on, what can you say?"
Actually, the Red Sox haven't been holding them on all season. Entering Saturday's game, Boston catchers had thrown out just 50 of 187 potential base-stealers--a success rate of only 26.7%
But even for these Red Sox, four stolen bases in a single inning was a new one.
And three by the same player?
Morgan was asked if he'd ever seen anyone duplicate White's sixth-inning dash around the bases.
"It was a very long time ago," Morgan replied. "His name was Robinson."
As in Jackie.
Poor Rich Gedman. Sent into the game after Danny Heep pinch-hit for Boston's starting catcher, Rick Cerone, Gedman went 0 for 5 in three innings of jousting with Angel baserunners. In his first inning, he went 0 for 4.
Washington set the tone by stealing third base against Gedman and pitcher Joe Price with the Red Sox leading, 5-3, in the sixth. That proved to be merely the warm-up act for White.
White stole both second and third while Wally Joyner was at bat. When Joyner eventually grounded back to Price, White was still standing on third base with two out and the Angels trailing, 5-4.
But he didn't stand around long. With Johnny Ray stepping in to face Price, White broke for home and beat Gedman's lunging tag with a hook slide that caught the top of home plate.
When White added his fourth steal of the game in the eighth, he rattled Boston's strategy the rest of the way--opening first base for Davis, whose intentional walk paved the way for Joyner's and McLemore's at-bats.
It also served as an inspiration to McLemore, the light-hitting second baseman who entered the game in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement for Ray.
"Awesome," McLemore exclaimed. "Everything (White) did tonight, he did at the right time. When you see that, you want to contribute, too."
According to Angel Manager Doug Rader, this wasn't the first time White had requested passage to steal home. It was only the first time permission had been granted.
"He's asked to do it before, and it wasn't the appropriate time," Rader said. "It was tonight . . . We needed to generate some runs. We needed some excitement."
White admitted he took "a big chance, stealing home with a right-handed batter at the plate. He doesn't know what I'm doing."
But as it developed, that worked to White's benefit.
"Johnny Ray blocked Gedman so he couldn't see me coming," White said.
By the time Gedman realized what was happening, he dug out the ball and made a dive for White. But White had already begun his slide.
"To think someone can slide faster than you can run is humbling," Rader said. "It was gorgeous."
White's steals culminated a comeback that saw the Angels erase deficits of 3-0 and 5-2.
Angel starter Jim Abbott, with two starts and two shutouts against Boston before Saturday, had that scoreless streak snapped in a hurry. He yielded a first-inning run when Wade Boggs walked and scored on a double by Dwight Evans. He fell behind, 3-0, when Jody Reed tripled home one run and Cerone double in another in the fourth.
And with none out in the sixth, Abbott left the game with runners on second and third--runners who would score against relief pitcher Bob McClure, giving the Red Sox a 5-2 advantage.
But that was before White got going. Four scintillating sprints later, the Angels were winners and readying for a weekend sweep in today's series finale.
"If that can't get this club feeling good for tomorrow," Rader said, "I don't know what will."
Chuck Finley completed a 60-pitch simulated game Saturday and received preliminary clearance to return to the Angel rotation Friday in Chicago. "It went good," said Finley, whose pitching delivery proved better than his grammar. "I was using all my pitches, keeping the ball around the plate. (The coaches) say everything looked pretty good. Afterward, they told me, 'Friday's your lucky day.' I told them, 'I'll let you know if it's lucky after the game's over." Finley said his foot didn't bother him until the latter part of the workout. "It just got a little sore toward the end," he said, "but they say that's something to expect. I had the same thing when I threw on the sideline last week. It's just a matter of getting out on the foot and strengthening it." Finley was asked if he was still favoring the foot, which he uses to drive off the mound. "Nah," he said. "Doug (Rader) and Lach (pitching coach Marcel Lachemann) were watching me like a hawk. If they'd seen anything like that, any cringe on my face, they would've stopped it right there."
By the time Devon White stopped running Saturday night--three stolen bases in the sixth inning and one more in the eighth--he was up to 43 steals for the season. That put him second in the American League behind Oakland's Rickey Henderson and third in the major leagues.