Kirk McCaskill wanted to beat the New York Yankees because he remembers his prep school trips to see games in the Bronx, an hour or so away from school in Pawling, N.Y.
That, and because he had never beaten them.
Dave Winfield wanted to beat the Yankees, too, and it could fill pages and pages to tell you why, and in how many ways.
Before Monday, he had never played against the team he was so bound up in, for good and ill, for most of 10 years.
McCaskill built the foundation of the Angels’ 4-2 victory over the Yankees at Anaheim Stadium Monday, giving up one run and six hits in seven innings.
Winfield nailed it down.
He produced what proved to be the winning run with a seventh-inning double that drove in pinch-runner Max Venable from second base, stretching the Angels’ lead to 3-1.
And he scored the game-sealing run by barreling home from third on Devon White’s pop fly to second baseman Steve Sax in foul territory. Sax caught the ball, but was startled by Winfield’s aggressiveness and threw home wildly.
“I just like playing the game like that,” said Winfield, who handed over the lineup card at home plate before meeting his former teammates.
“It’s the first time I played against them,” he said. “I wanted to play like it’s any other game. Nevertheless, it’s the Yankees. I’m now the opposition that tries always to beat the Yankees.”
McCaskill (8-8) has been obscured this season in the attention given to Chuck Finley and Mark Langston, the pitcher who might win 20 games and the pitcher who might lose 20.
McCaskill has an 8-8 record, but he presses on despite pain caused by bone spurs in his right elbow. He expects to have surgery the day after the season ends, or even the day after his final start if the team approves.
But his ordinary record obscures an extraordinary earned-run average.
McCaskill’s 2.96 ERA is the fourth best in the American League, surpassed only by those of Boston’s Roger Clemens, Finley, and Oakland’s Dave Stewart, all probable 20-game winners.
“Kirk’s pitching with a hockey mentality,” Manager Doug Rader said. “For someone pitching in discomfort, it would be easy to throw in the towel, have the procedure and prepare for next season. It takes guts, and every other attribute you have.”
McCaskill refrains from taking pride in his ERA alone.
“Every pitcher wants to keep his ERA as low as possible,” McCaskill said. “I look at wins and losses more. . . . When I say wins and losses, I judge myself on whether I gave the team a chance to win. If I did that, I’m basically happy, if didn’t, I’m basically sad.”
McCaskill’s name disappears and reappears in the ERA standings because the number of innings he has pitched barely qualify him to be ranked. But with his start each week, he usually pulls back into contention.
The Angels have not always given McCaskill support. In his eight losses, the Angels have scored a total of five runs at the time of his departure.
The Angels, who were guaranteed not to fall into last place in the American League West only by virtue of Minnesota’s day off, had a 2-0 lead after two innings.
Yankee starter Chuck Cary, who would last only two innings before being removed because of back spasms, walked the first batter he faced, Brian Downing.
Downing went to third on Donnie Hill’s single, and scored on Lance Parrish’s two-out single.
The Angels put runners on first and third in the second inning on Dick Schofield’s walk and Downing’s single. Schofield scored on Cary’s wild pitch high, sliding in safely ahead of catcher Bob Geren’s throw from the backstop to Cary.
The Yankees got a run back in the third inning on two singles and a groundout.
The Angels led, 4-1, after eight innings, before Jesse Barfield’s solo homer, his 16th, to left against Bryan Harvey made the score 4-2.
The homer was only the second this season yielded by Harvey, who pitched the eighth and ninth for his 14th save.
Mark Langston says one of the most difficult things about his 15 losses this season is the wait for the next start and the possibility it brings for putting the last behind him. There will be no long wait this time. Langston, who gave up eight runs in 2 2/3 innings Sunday, will start Wednesday on two days’ rest. He will replace Bert Blyleven, who will skip a start after receiving a cortisone shot for his strained right shoulder Sunday.
“I’ll take the ball any time they want to give it to me,” Langston said. “I didn’t do that much work (Sunday). I don’t think that will have any effect.” Langston (5-15) threw only 64 pitches Sunday, his 10th loss in his past 11 decisions.
Blyleven, whose next start will be Saturday, said the chance for him to skip a start will be beneficial.
Langston said he believes he has corrected several mechanical flaws in his complicated delivery, and that he “felt sound (Sunday) for the first time in a long time” despite his poor performance. Langston said he was consoled by pitchers Blyleven, Kirk McCaskill and Jim Abbott.
“They really picked me up,” he said, also including Manager Doug Rader. “I was down. . . . The more you talk about it, the easier it is to get rid of it.”
Reliever Bob McClure’s seasonlong wait to be activated is set to end today. Infielder Rick Schu will report to Edmonton to make room for McClure, who has not pitched all season because of elbow problems. . . . Dave Winfield talked to New York reporters at length before the game, recounting his reaction to recent events involving George Steinbrenner and Howard Spira. . . . Mike Witt, the other half of the trade that brought Winfield to the Angels, made his first visit to Anaheim Stadium since becoming a Yankee but chose not to talk to reporters.