It’s Rocky Road for Hilly, but Angels Win, 8-7 : Baseball: After team takes 8-0 lead over Royals, Hathaway leaves with the score 8-3 and barely gets his first victory.
Angel starter Hilly Hathaway has been exposed to insults and taunts wherever he has pitched, listening to fans and even teammates unmercifully teasing him simply because of his name.
Perhaps now, getting his first major league victory Wednesday night in the Angels’ 8-7 decision over the Kansas City Royals, the ridicule will at least start to subside.
When you’re winning games in the big leagues, Hathaway says, people may quit teasing you.
“It took me a long time for me to quit being mad at my father,” Hathaway said. “I mean, I was ragged on a lot, but after awhile you learn to live with it.
“But hey, I’ve got no choice.”
The real name on the birth certificate is Hillary Houston Hathaway Jr.
Hathaway has no idea why his father was stuck with Hillary in the first place, but his papa told him one day that if he could tolerate the abuse, so could his son.
“It’s getting better now,” Hathaway said, “but I think I’ll stop it right here. I don’t plan to pass it down when I get married and have kids.”
Hathaway, who would prefer to be called Hilly, had the Royals saying his name in vain Wednesday during his six-inning stint. They laughed about his name before the game, asking how they could take anyone serious with a name like Hillary, only to be silenced once the game commenced.
Hathaway, who became the first Angel starter other than Mark Langston or Chuck Finley to win a game since May 28, allowed only one baserunner to second through the first four innings. He left the game with an 8-3 lead and no outs in the seventh, went into the clubhouse to ice his arm and dress.
When he peeked in on his teammates in the eighth inning, glancing at the scoreboard, he saw looks of panic. The Angels (36-33) had managed to turn a laugher into a disaster.
The Angels, who owned a 7-0 lead after three innings and an 8-0 lead after 4 1/2, found themselves in the eighth desperately searching for someone to record an out.
The Royals, still trailing 8-3 at the start of the eighth, produced five consecutive hits off relievers Julio Valera, Jerry Nielsen and Gene Nelson. Just like that, the score was 8-7 with Kevin McReynolds standing at first base, still with no outs.
Nelson, who lowered his earned-run average to 1.40, retired the next three batters and stepped aside for Steve Frey in the ninth.
Brian McRae led off the ninth with a single, and one pitch later, got a great jump toward second base and would have had it stolen except that Felix Jose bunted. It was the biggest break of the game, Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said.
George Brett then hit a comebacker to the mound, and Frey caught McRae halfway between second and third. McRae was out at third in the ensuing rundown, and with two outs, Brett was at first. Mike Macfarlane made the final out by hitting a line drive that center fielder Chad Curtis snagged in the gap.
“I don’t how many more of these games I can take,” Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said. “I’d like just once to put a cork into one of these games, but each night is a new adventure.”
Said Frey, who recorded his ninth save: “We do make things interesting, don’t we?”
Still, Rodgers realizes that this trend can’t continue much longer if the Angels hope to still have a bullpen in August. The Angel relievers have pitched 38 1/3 innings in the last nine games, only four innings less than the starting rotation.
The Angels, so desperate for bullpen help, are keeping tabs on triple-A pitcher Mike Butcher--who just began pitching again after recovering from shoulder surgery. They even are talking about the possibility of using No. 1 draft pick Brian Anderson in the big leagues, if they can quickly sign him.
“A lot of people think he can pitch in the major leagues right now,” Rodgers said, “and we could sure use him right now.”
In the meantime, the Angels will simply have to rely on their offense, which produced 11 hits, but were outhit once again.
Third baseman Kelly Gruber, who entered the game with only one hit in his last 17 at-bats, proved to be the catalyst by going three for four with a three-run homer and four RBIs.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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