Waiting Game Pays for Angels : Baseball: Coachman waited 6 1/2 years, Bichette 3 weeks, Langston all season, but they team up to beat Tigers, 5-3.
If the three weeks Dante Bichette waited from his last productive game until his run-scoring, pinch-hit triple Monday night seemed interminable, he had only to look a few lockers to his left to discover the real meaning of patience.
By comparison with the 6 1/2 years Pete Coachman waited just to get a chance in the big leagues, Bichette’s wait was no more than a moment, and Bichette knew he had no right to pity himself for his drought.
“There’ll be people who never get here,” Bichette said. “It makes you appreciate more what you have when you are here.”
Patience and persistence paid off for Bichette, Coachman and Mark Langston in the Angels’ 5-3 victory over Detroit at rain-dampened Tiger Stadium, their sixth victory in seven games.
Bichette had his first multihit game since July 31 and his first run batted in since Aug. 8 when he drove in the first run in a three-run Angel rally in the seventh. Coachman went two for five with two RBIs to give him at least one RBI in each of the three games he has played since being summoned from triple-A Edmonton.
Together, they helped Langston (7-15) win consecutive games for the first time as an Angel, a modest but significant accomplishment in a season of few positive achievements for the $16-million left-hander.
“Shoot, it’s a streak now,” Bichette said. “It’s something to work on.”
In seven innings’ work on his 30th birthday, Langston struck out eight and gave up five hits, including the three-run home run by Alan Trammell in the third that wiped out a 2-0 Angel lead.
Bichette’s triple off Paul Gibson (3-3) scored Dick Schofield with the tying run, Coachman’s double off Edwin Nunez scored Bichette for a 4-3 Angel lead and Chili Davis made it 5-3 with a single that scored Coachman. The lead was preserved by Willie Fraser, Bob McClure and Bryan Harvey, with Harvey earning his 16th save with 1 1/3 hitless innings.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Langston said of his streak, which began with his 8-1 victory over the New York Yankees last Wednesday. “It’s a very good feeling. They’ve scored some runs for me and played good defense. I’ve felt a lot more comfortable in my last two starts, more aggressive and better able to make the pitches I want.”
Not every pitch went where he wanted it to, and he rued the two walks that preceded Trammell’s two-out home run.
“I tip my hat to him,” Langston said of the Tigers’ shortstop, who has a .367 career average against him and ranks among the AL leaders with a .312 batting average. “He’s one of the best hitters in baseball.
“I shouldn’t have walked the guys before him because with guys on base, he’s going to do damage. . . . Even though I walked (five) guys, I feel a lot better with the command I had. I feel more comfortable than I was before.”
Coachman looks comfortable at the plate, hitting .429 in three games, but his defensive abilities kept him in the minors until he was three months away from his 29th birthday.
“A couple of years in the minors I had pretty good years and I thought I’d get called up in September, but I didn’t,” said Coachman, whose second-inning single scored Johnny Ray with the Angels’ second run. “That made me put pressure on myself to do a little better. I was having a good season (hitting .291) this year when they called me up, and I wanted to do really well once I got here.”
He hit an inside fastball for his double. “He hits the inside pitch better than any guy I’ve ever seen,” said Bichette, his former Edmonton teammate.
Coachman credited his teammates for his success, saying that he frequently sees fastballs because pitchers figure him to be an easier out than Dave Winfield and Davis, who hit behind him. “The fastball is the one pitch I hit,” Coachman said.
Bichette believes he hit upon a solution to the midseason slump that almost negated his fast start and relegated him to the bench.
“I’m working real hard to stay positive and put the past out of my mind,” he said. “The last 10 or 15 games I’ve been hitting the ball real well. (Playing occasionally) is not something I’ll accept. Down the road I think I’m an everyday player. I proved it earlier in the year. I can’t blame the Angels for not playing me, but I know in my heart I deserve to be out there.”
In Bryan Harvey’s last 23 outings covering 27 1/3 innings, he has allowed only three earned runs--an earned-run average of 0.99--and has recorded 40 strikeouts. He’s 1-1 with 12 saves in that span and has lowered his ERA from 3.91 to 2.32.
“I’ve never really had a stretch like this,” said Harvey, whose 16 saves lead the Angels. “I’m just throwing strikes and people are making outs.”
Even when his confidence was at its lowest, his ERA at its highest and Mark Eichhorn was the Angels’ closer, Harvey never lost hope. “(The coaches) told me I was the man,” Harvey said. “I was scuffling early and Ike was getting all the saves, but they told me I was the man and that meant a lot to me.”
A Magnetic Resonance Imaging test done Monday on Bert Blyleven’s strained right shoulder showed no abnormalities, and the 39-year-old right-hander will continue rehabilitation in California. Blyleven was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 11. Joe Grahe will start in his place tonight, Grahe’s second major league start.
When Mark Langston struck out the side in the second inning, that was the first time he had done so since June 20 against Chicago. Fifty-one of the 97 runs scored against him (52.6%) came with two out.
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