One strike was all the Angels needed. One forkball by Bryan Harvey fools Mickey Tettleton, and they could tell Jim Abbott his 6 2/3 hitless innings hadn't been wasted. One strike.
"I meant to throw him a forkball down in the dirt," Harvey said. "I get it in the dirt and he misses and something else happens."
But Harvey didn't. He got the forkball up and over the plate, and the Angels sat in their clubhouse Sunday cursing fate and themselves for a 10-inning 4-3 loss.
Tettleton slammed Harvey's 3-and-2 pitch off the facing of Tiger Stadium's upper deck with two out in the ninth inning to tie the score, 2-2. It was his fourth homer in three games.
Still, the Angels scratched out a run in the 10th inning against Mike Henneman on a double, a walk and a single, only to watch the bullpen wilt in the bottom of the inning and lose the game on Rob Deer's bases-loaded single off Joe Grahe.
"It hurts to lose after the way Jim Abbott pitched. It hurts, period," center fielder Dave Gallagher said.
Abbott, who grew up 90 minutes north of Detroit in Flint, Mich., mesmerized the Tigers and a crowd of 23,785 that split its loyalties between the home team and the local hero. Pitching on three days' rest, he showed no signs of fatigue and was as sharp as he has been all season.
"I really felt the boy had no-hit stuff," Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson said. "I said to my coaches about the fourth inning, 'This boy could pitch a no-hitter.' He was throwing well, and he was throwing his breaking ball out of the strike zone every time he wanted. . . . We watched somebody tonight who by next year is going to be one of the dominant pitchers in the league."
Anderson is generous with superlatives, but he wasn't alone.
"Jimmy was outstanding. I thought he was going to throw a no-hitter," Angel Manager Doug Rader said. "We get the right outs, we win the ballgame for him."
The Angels gave Abbott a run in the second inning on Gary Gaetti's home run off left-hander Frank Tanana--Gaetti's first homer on the road after hitting seven at Anaheim Stadium--and they added an unearned run in the fifth on a double by Luis Sojo and third baseman Tony Phillips' wild throw on Luis Polonia's grounder.
Abbott's no-hit string was broken in the seventh inning when Cecil Fielder sent a bouncer past a skidding Dick Schofield into center field. After giving up a bloop hit to third base by Tettleton and a solid single to left by Travis Fryman that scored Fielder from second, Abbott left to a standing ovation.
"You're thinking more in terms of pitching down with a 2-0 lead in this ballpark and the good-hitting team the Tigers had," Abbott said. "At that point, you're just thinking about getting a win."
He was denied that when Tettleton bested Harvey in the ninth inning, only the third time this season the Angels' bullpen failed to convert a save opportunity. Abbott was the starter on all three.
"Maybe I should start carrying a rabbit's foot around," Abbott said, with a hint of a smile.
Scott Bailes started the 10th inning for the Angels, exiting after John Shelby reached on an infield hit to shortstop, and Lloyd Moseby was called out on strikes.
Dave Bergman, who batted for pinch-hitter Alan Trammell after the Angels brought in right-hander Robinson (0-2), singled to right field and left for pinch-runner Milt Cuyler. Phillips singled to right on a 3-and-2 pitch, scoring Shelby with the tying run and moving Cuyler to third.
After Floyd Bannister walked Lou Whitaker on five pitches, the Angels summoned Grahe to face Deer. Deer poked Grahe's 0-and-1 pitch through the left side of the infield for the game-winning hit.
The bullpen collectively has faltered badly on this trip, giving up 27 earned runs in 34 2/3 innings in 10 games. That's an earned-run average of 7.01.
Said catcher Ron Tingley: "If I had the (Tettleton) situation to do all over again, I'd have Harv throw the same pitch. I'll do it in Kansas City against (Danny) Tartabull, or whomever. I'll go after him like we went after these guys--hard--and we'll win the series and go home."