Sixty-five games remain on the Angels' schedule, but Jose Canseco considers their season over.
"Them catch us? Impossible," the outspoken Oakland outfielder said after the A's 5-3 victory over the Angels Tuesday at the Oakland Coliseum. "With them 13 games (actually 14 1/2) out? They'd have to play .900 ball and we'd have to play .500.
"Highly unlikely. Very highly unlikely. It's like finding a needle in a haystack. . . . They said they had to win all four games here? More like eight in a row."
The Angels have lost all four games they've played against the A's this season, and Tuesday's defeat dropped them further out of first place than they had been this season. The A's used a slow-working poison to score a 7-6 come-from-behind victory Monday, but Oakland's weapon of choice Tuesday was one devastating inning.
Dave Henderson, Mark McGwire and Mike Gallego homered in the sixth against Jim Abbott (6-9) to rally the A's and give Bob Welch his major league-leading 16th victory.
Dave Henderson's home run, his 17th, went into the left-field seats and made the score 2-2. "You make mistakes and sometimes get away with it," Abbott said, "but the really good hitters hit them out of the park."
McGwire's 25th homer of the season, which went about 480 feet, soared into the second deck in left and put Oakland ahead, 3-2. Gallego's second homer of the season, which followed a single by Ron Hassey, effectively put the game out of reach for the Angels, who stranded 11 runners.
"Of the three, that was the best pitch. He just hit it," Abbott said. "You have to give him credit."
Dave Winfield gave all of the A's credit. "They've got a good team and everybody contributes over there," said Winfield, whose lead-off home run in the second inning gave the Angels a 1-0 lead.
"Early in the year, when I was with the Yankees, I made the comment that even Mike Gallego has more RBIs than I do, and he must have been trying to catch up tonight when he got into the act.
"They're right up there (with the best teams he's seen). Their pitching is good and they've got a couple of extraordinary weapons. They've got a good blend of journeymen and rookies."
And exceptional defensive instincts. Winfield came up in the ninth with one out and Johnny Ray on first. He slammed a Dennis Eckersley pitch to deep left-center field, and when Dave Henderson caught up with it, he deflated the Angels' hopes.
"I knew it was an extra-base hit," Winfield said. "Henderson made a great play. I don't know why he was where he was. It would have gone for three."
Instead, the A's are going for three consecutive victories today. "When people come out to see us play, they like to see home runs, but they don't realize what this team is made of," McGwire said.
"We have great pitching and a defense that's underrated. We play really great defense."
The Angels left the bases loaded in the third. They loaded them with one out in the fifth but got only one run, on a wild pitch by Welch. Manager Doug Rader called those innings the key "without question."
Said Abbott: "We can't take anything away from them and say, 'We're just as good as they are.' You make adjustments and hope you can do the things that put you in a class with them. . . . I don't think we can be discouraged.
"Certainly, (Monday) night was disappointing, but I see some positive signs. We scored a couple of runs against some decent pitchers and we've got to take heart from that."
Shortstop Dick Schofield was to undergo an examination of his right shoulder today by Dr. Rick Bost, the A's team physician. Schofield missed his second consecutive game because of rotator cuff strain. He won't play today.
Relief pitcher Bryan Harvey, unavailable Sunday and Monday because of a strained muscle in his upper back suffered during pregame stretching exercises Sunday, threw Tuesday and was available for duty. . . . Relief pitcher Willie Fraser was scheduled to return to his Irvine home today to be with his wife, Annie, for the birth of their first child.
Angel radio broadcaster Ken Brett was the losing pitcher in three of Nolan Ryan's 299 career victories, and he wished Ryan well tonight in his pursuit of No. 300. "I'm happy I could help him," Brett said. "He beat me three times, but how come people don't ask me if I ever beat him? I was 83-85 for my career--if not for him, I'd be over .500."
Relief pitcher Bob McClure, who has yet to pitch this season because of elbow problems, will pitch a simulated game Friday. He said he has been developing a forkball. "I've been working on it to the point where I feel comfortable with it," he said. "It's almost like I've got butterflies thinking about going out there again. I can't wait."
Pitcher Chuck Finley was ejected for "voicing my opinion" of the umpires from the bench in the fifth inning. He became the third Angel ejected from a game this season, following Manager Doug Rader and Chili Davis. . . . The A's grabbed a share of the AL record for most three-home run innings in a season. They've done it four times, matching the 1964 Minnesota Twins. The major league record is five times, shared by the 1954 New York Giants and 1955 Chicago Cubs.
A scoring change gave Luis Polonia a single on a sixth-inning play Monday night that was initially ruled an error against Oakland pitcher Joe Klink.