If there is one constant in the Angels’ universe, most everyone in the clubhouse believes it is Bryan Harvey, the Angels’ closer.
But as the Angels have plodded through their past 14 games, losing 11, even Harvey has faltered, giving up a run in five of his last six appearances.
Called on in the 10th inning against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night, Harvey loaded the bases on three singles--two on close plays at first--before walking home the winning run of a 4-3 Angel loss in front of 23,127 at Anaheim Stadium.
“We ain’t had a break in quite awhile,” said Harvey (0-3), who botched what would have been the third out of the 10th when he overstepped the bag after first baseman Hubie Brooks fielded Tom Brunansky’s grounder.
“That one was just ugly,” Harvey said. “I just ran past the bag.”
That play loaded the bases, and Harvey walked Jack Clark to force home the run.
“I was a little frustrated,” he said.
The batter before Brunansky, Mike Greenwell, had also reached on an infield grounder. Shortstop Gary DiSarcina moved to field it, nearly ran into baserunner Jody Reed, then watched as Rene Gonzales’ throw to first was ruled late.
“Seems like when things are going bad, everything seems to work against you,” interim Manager John Wathan said. “Tonight is another example of that.”
The Angels wasted a sharp performance by Julio Valera, who did not give up a hit until the fifth inning and went 7 1/3 innings, yielding three runs and four hits, striking out eight and walking three.
The Angels have been “scuffling,” in the terminology of Wathan, so on Wednesday the interim manager did some shuffling.
The way things have gone lately--the Angels had averaged 2.7 runs per game in their past 13 games--it seemed as if he might be shuffling a weak deck. Wathan went ahead, shaking up the lineup against left-hander Frank Viola.
Wathan fashioned a lineup that gave Brooks his first career start at first base--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, Wathan sent Von Hayes in to pinch-hit for Chad Curtis, and Hayes singled to right. With Hayes at second after a sacrifice, Brooks singled to center, driving in Hayes.
As for Brooks, Wathan said the idea is to give the designated hitter an opportunity to be more involved in the game, 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. He went two for four Wednesday.
Valera retired the first 11 batters he faced--five of them on strikeouts--before walking Tom Brunansky with two out in the fourth.
With 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 walked, stolen second and taken third on a double play.
Gonzales had given Valera a 1-0 lead in the second with his sixth home run. Ron Tingley gave him a 2-1 lead in the fifth, driving a 3-and-1 pitch to left-center for his first home run. 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 manage to hold that lead either, as Reed led off the sixth with a double to right, took third on a groundout and scored on Brunansky’s single.
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.
Greenwell, a left-hander, promptly gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead by driving in Pena with a sharply hit grounder past first.
The Angels forced an extra inning, only to lose for the seventh time in eight games.
“Bryan, I feel, is by far the nastiest reliever in the league,” Gonzales said. “If he gets in a little slump, I’m not going to worry about him. We just haven’t been supporting our starters with offense.”
Even so, Harvey knew he had a chance.
“If you’re going good, that’s an out,” he said of Greenwell’s ground ball. “We’re scuffling, and that’s all it took.”