Angels, Yankees Tied Up at Six in 13th Inning

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Whitey Herzog was sitting in front of his television set Wednesday night, realizing he was responsible for this intriguing matchup.

He traded starting pitcher Jim Abbott to the New York Yankees, creating a furor in Southern California.

He was the one who provided Angel starting pitcher Joe Magrane his extravagant two-year contract, creating a furor in baseball.

Now, sitting in his living room 1,900 miles away in St. Louis, he was recognizing the irony of the Angels' game against the Yankees, tied, 6-6, in the 13th inning, in front of 24,312 fans at Anaheim Stadium.

"I guess they're bringing that up a lot tonight, huh?" Herzog said. "But you know something, if I had to do it all over again, I'm not sure I would have changed anything.

"I wanted to keep Abbott as much as anyone, and maybe the deal didn't work out like we hoped, but I still think I was right in not giving him what he wanted.

"And you know something, I still think Magrane will be a solid No. 3 starter. When I saw him last year, I told our people, 'Damn, if we can get a third starter for our ballclub for $1.5 million, why not take a shot? Where are you going to find a pitcher who does what he does?' "

Magrane, who underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery before spring training began, was impressive in his season debut. He yielded four hits and two earned runs in five innings, walking three batters with two strikeouts. If not for Danny Tartabull's two-out, two-run homer in the first inning, Magrane could have left the game after 85 pitches with a 2-0 lead.

Instead, neither he nor Abbott received a decision. Abbott left after six innings with a 5-2 lead, but the Angels tied it in the seventh with three runs off reliever Jeff Reardon, capped by Tim Salmon's two-run single.

"We're in the process of getting our pitching staff together," Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said, "and Joe Magrane is the first piece of the puzzle to come back.

"I hate to lose as much as anyone else, but we knew coming out of spring training we had some problems, and we compounded it with (Mark) Langston getting hurt and (Chuck) Finley struggling. And I hate to say this, but we may struggle for a while.

"But I think once we get things going, we've got a chance to go .500 for a while. And that may be good enough in this division."

The feat might be much easier, of course, if Herzog never had traded Abbott. It already is perceived as one of greatest blunders in Angel history, particularly considering what they received in exchange. First baseman J.T. Snow and starting pitcher Russ Springer have been demoted to triple-A Vancouver, and reliever Jerry Nielsen is toiling in double-A Midland.

"When Jim Abbott signed with the Angels," agent Scott Boras said, "I thought he'd be here forever. He never wanted to leave, and everyone knows that.

"I don't need to say it was a mistake, but I think the performances of the athletes in question speak for themselves.

"I mean, would you trade those three players today for Jim Abbott?"

Herzog, who offered Abbott a four-year, $16-million contract, still insists that it was senseless to consent to Abbott's request for $17.5 million. He could have simply offered a one-year contract, but feared losing him to free agency at this season's conclusion.

"We had to make that trade," Herzog said. "The only thing I feel bad about is that Springer hasn't done it for us. I don't understand that one. I really thought Springer would be a good starting pitcher.

"I knew Snow wasn't a base stealer, and he wasn't going to be hitting a ton of homers, but I thought he could hit .280 in the big leagues. And Nielsen, he was just a throw-in.

"It's crazy, if you had tried to trade Snow at this time last year, you probably could have gotten just about anyone in the majors for him. Now, his stock has dropped.

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