In the runway behind the visitors' dugout, where no one could see him, Bo Jackson fumed over being struck out by Angel left-hander Jim Abbott in the fourth inning Friday.
"He was furious with himself that he didn't make contact," White Sox Manager Jeff Torborg said. "He stood there and went through his stance, over and over, and held his hands in a different position. When he came up the next time, I gave him the green light on 3-and-0 because some guys look hitterish , if that's the word."
Given a second chance to connect off Abbott, Jackson didn't miss. In a meeting of two athletes that added grace and drama to a cool September evening, Jackson singled up the middle to score Frank Thomas and give the White Sox a 1-0 victory before an emotionally divided crowd of 42,990 at Anaheim Stadium.
"Bo Jackson's a superstar. I have a lot of respect for the things he's done," said Abbott, whose seven-game winning streak ended because of Jackson's eighth hit and seventh RBI in 10 games. "I admire him a lot for having the fortitude to come back. The crowd reaction was special and he deserved it. He's an L.A. Raider. He's going to get a positive reaction. It doesn't upset me. He's good for the game."
As good a game as Abbott (16-9) pitched against the second-place White Sox, Jack McDowell was even better. McDowell (16-9) held the Angels to four singles and struck out seven in recording his major league-leading 14th complete game. Only once did the Angels get a runner as far as third, and no Angel reached scoring position after the second inning.
"Abbott was super," Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said, "but so was McDowell. It was very simple. Tonight, two fine pitchers pitched their butts off. They had one chance to score and they scored. We had one and we didn't."
A diving catch by right fielder Mike Huff on Max Venable's sinking liner in the second took care of the Angels' only concerted threat, but Abbott also gave the White Sox little hope until the sixth.
"He's tough," McDowell said. "His outs are real easy outs. You really have to scrap to get runs out of him."
Their only run was set up when Thomas doubled off the fence in right-center and moved to third on Carlton Fisk's grounder to the right side. Pitching carefully to Jackson, Abbott threw three pitches out of the strike zone. The fourth pitch was a fastball that Jackson hit off his fists past Abbott, through the drawn-in infield and into center field.
"I've got two stances I've been using for about three years," Jackson said. "That was my put-the-ball-into-play stance."
Abbott berated himself for not making a play on Jackson's shot, although he seemed to have little chance at it. Despite a fine performance that reduced his earned-run average to 2.84, third best in the AL, Abbott said he didn't pitch well.
"I've pitched a lot better. I was erratic the first six innings," he said. "I didn't have great command of anything really."
Torborg was surprised to hear Abbott's self-criticism. "I'm just glad he didn't pitch any better," the White Sox manager said.
Abbott has pitched well enough to earn mention for the Cy Young Award, but he nominated teammates Chuck Finley and Mark Langston and Minnesota's Kevin Tapani for the honor. "I don't see myself up there," he said. "I have a hard time thinking of myself in that class."