Bryan Harvey, the Angels’ closer, has been less than effective of late, giving up a run in five of his last six appearances.
Called on in the 10th inning Wednesday night against the Boston Red Sox, Harvey loaded the bases on three singles--two on close plays at first--before walking in the winning run of a 4-3 Angel loss in front of 23,127 at Anaheim Stadium.
Pitching coach Marcel Lachemann recently thought he spotted something in Harvey’s delivery on videotape, but that has not helped yet.
Harvey fell to 0-3.
The Angels have been “scuffling,” in the terminology of John Wathan, so on Wednesday the interim manager did some shuffling.
The way things have gone lately--the Angels had averaged 2.7 runs a game in losing six of their last seven games and 10 of 13--it seemed as if he might be shuffling a weak deck. Wathan went ahead, shaking up the lineup against Boston left-hander Frank Viola.
Wathan fashioned a lineup that gave Hubie Brooks the first start at first base of his career--a move Wathan said injured Manager Buck Rodgers had been planning--and included only two players who started at the same position on opening day.
The moves paid off when Brooks drove in the tying run in the ninth.
Trailing, 3-2, in the ninth, Wathan sent Von Hayes in to pinch-hit for Chad Curtis, and Hayes singled to right. After a sacrifice by Jose Gonzales, Brooks singled to center for the tying run.
As for Brooks, Wathan said the idea is to give the designated hitter an opportunity to be more involved in the game instead of fidgeting on the bench, and perhaps help him ease out of his prolonged slump.
Brooks, 35, a third baseman and shortstop earlier in his career and now listed as an outfielder, hit .304 during the first 20 games of the season. Since then, he had hit .133, lowering his average to .216 entering Wednesday’s game, when he went two for four.
Wathan’s moves Wednesday inspired their share of a kind of musing, uncritical second-guessing. Would Rodgers have done it this way?
Wathan spoke Tuesday with Rodgers, who remains in the hospital after surgery resulting from injuries in the Angels’ bus accident last week.
“He told me it’s a little difficult to have a feel for things while he’s away. ‘Do what you feel is right for right now.’ ”
The Angels’ wasted a good performance by starter Julio Valera, who didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning. Valera went 7 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits, striking out eight and walking three.
Valera retired the first 11 batters he faced--five of them on strikeouts--before walking Tom Brunansky with two out in the fourth. He ended the inning by striking out Jack Clark, but opened the fifth by walking Phil Plantier and Ellis Burks.
He handled that pressure smoothly, as Scott Cooper hit a grounder up the middle that second baseman Rene Gonzales fielded and flipped to second, starting a double play.
There were two outs in the fifth, and Valera still had a no-hitter and a 1-0 lead. But the next batter, Luis Rivera, lined a low pitch into left, driving in Plantier, who had taken third on the double play. Valera followed the ball’s path to left from the mound, then hung his head.
Gonzales had given Valera a 1-0 lead in the second with his sixth home run of the season. Catcher Ron Tingley gave him a 2-1 lead in the fifth, driving a 3-1 pitch to left-center for his first home run of the season. It was the first time this season Boston has given up two home runs in a game.
It was also only the third home run of Tingley’s major league career. Even though Tingley was celebrating his 33rd birthday Wednesday, the journeyman minor leaguer entered the season with only two years and nine days of major league service.
Valera didn’t manager to hold that lead either, as Jody Reed led off the sixth with a double to right, took third on a groundout and scored on Brunansky’s single. This time, Valera hopped up and down and swung his fist in anger.
Valera did not get the early hook Rodgers usually wields, drawing only a meeting on the mound after he gave up a leadoff double to Tony Pena in the eighth. But after Reed sacrificed Pena to third, Wathan went to the bullpen for left-hander Steve Frey.
Frey went to a full count against left-hander Mike Greenwell before Greenwell gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead by driving in Pena with a sharply hit grounder past first. Brooks dove for the ball, but couldn’t come up with it.
Jeff Reardon (1-0) blew the save in the ninth, then earned the victory.