Torey Lovullo stared into the New York Yankees’ dugout. They embarrassed him once Sunday afternoon. It was not going to happen again.
Lovullo, the sentimental hero in the Angels’ 3-2, 14-inning victory over the Yankees, had been insulted by the Yankees’ strategic move in the 10th inning. They intentionally walked two consecutive batters to get to him, and the strategy worked.
Now, he was livid that they were trying it again in the 14th. Stepping to the plate with one out and the bases loaded, Lovullo needed only a sacrifice fly to send everyone home for the All-Star break.
The first pitch from left-hander Paul Gibson was nearly over Lovullo’s head. He swung anyway, fouling it back.
The second pitch was in the dirt. Lovullo swung anyway, fouling it off.
With the count 0-and-2, Gibson threw the next pitch over the plate and Lovullo sent it back over center fielder Bernie Williams’ head.
The Angels were winners, the crowd of 38,561 at Anaheim Stadium screamed, and Lovullo totally lost control.
He ran to first base, jumped onto the first-base bag with both feet, trotted halfway to second, and flung his batting helmet high into the air as if he just graduated from the Air Force Academy.
“I guess I got a little out of control,” Lovullo said.
No one was blaming him.
“I was hoping so bad he could end it,” said J.T. Snow, Angel first baseman. “I mean, they were telling him something. They were saying, ‘Hey, we don’t think you can do it, that’s why we’re walking everybody to get to you.’
“They showed him no respect, and Torey put it right back in their face.”
Lovullo, playing against the team that abandoned him at the end of last season, was angered when the Yankees first pulled the stunt in the 10th inning. Lovullo popped up to first baseman Don Mattingly, and the inning ended when Steve Farr relieved Steve Howe and struck out Damion Easley.
“I was pretty upset about it,” Lovullo said. “It’s kind of like a slap in your face when the opposing manager walks two guys to get to you.”
Luis Polonia opened the 14th with a single to right, went to second on Rich Monteleone’s wild pitch and to third on Chad Curtis’ groundout to second.
Yankee Manager Buck Showalter came to the mound, and Lovullo watched in disbelief as once again, Tim Salmon and Chili Davis were intentionally walked, bringing Lovullo to the plate.
“It was deja vu all over again,” Lovullo said.
Lovullo started to walk to the plate, but before he could leave, he was served advice from Manager Buck Rodgers, hitting coach Rod Carew, and just about everyone else wearing an Angel uniform.
“I don’t know if the bat boy said anything,” Rodgers said, “but everybody else had words of wisdom for him.”
Lovullo, who had five intentional walks in front of him Sunday, and seven the last two games, hit home runs against Roger Clemens and Kevin Brown this season, but he said there was no greater feeling than his single off Gibson.
The five intentional walks issued to the Angels on Sunday tied an American League record, set June 29, 1958, when the Chicago White Sox were provided the same by the Washington Senators.
Lovullo’s first hit of the game, spanning seven at-bats, also enabled the Angels to enter the All-Star break with a .500 record (43-43), in fourth place, but only two games behind the White Sox for the American League West lead.
“It’s certainly much better than we expected to be,” Rodgers said. “I don’t think anyone thought this would happen.”
Added shortstop Gary DiSarcina, who produced three of the Angels’ 14 hits: “I think a lot of people have kind of lost sight of reality. Even though this is a messed-up division, people have forgotten this is a rebuilding year. People have gotten so caught up with the win-win-win idea, they forgot what we’re trying to do.
“I think this will be a competitive team two or three years down the line, but it’s just not realistic for people to think we can contend the way we stand now.”
Considering the Angels have had five comeback victories in the last week, it might be worth checking back in the second half.