A week ago, the Angels probably would have welcomed a liquid gift from the heavens. A rainout would have meant at least a temporary respite from their struggles. But they weren’t happy to see the steady rain that pelted the Anaheim Stadium field between 5 and 6 p.m. Friday.
After winning two in a row, the Angels were eager to play again. Then the rain suddenly stopped, the ominous black clouds parted and bright sunshine lit the upper deck.
So much for good omens and silver linings.
The Angels beat the Oakland Athletics, 11-6, before 33,399, but rookie left-hander Brian Anderson, who leads the Angels with three victories, suffered a broken left thumb when Geronimo Berroa’s single to center glanced off his hand in the first inning.
Anderson, who had been the Angels’ most consistent starter, completed the inning, but was unable to continue after warming up for the second. He was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, where X-rays revealed a non-displaced fracture. Anderson, who will be out of action four to six weeks, was put on the 15-day disabled list and Mike Butcher was recalled from triple-A Vancouver.
“Fortunately, Mark (Langston) is one, maybe two workouts away (from returning),” Manager Buck Rodgers said. “And Joe Magrane is just back. Thank goodness for small favors.”
Before the game, Tim Salmon watched the downpour from the protection of the dugout and frowned. “I didn’t know it ever rained here this time of year,” he said. “Damn. This is the one time you can’t wait to play. We’re going good.”
Salmon didn’t mention that the A’s happen to be going very, very badly, but soon, both truths were clearly evident.
Salmon belted homers in his first two at-bats. Gary DiSarcina, who hadn’t hit a homer in almost two years, hit a two-run shot to left in the third and Chad Curtis added a two-run homer in the fifth.
Meanwhile, Oakland looked very much like one of the worst teams in baseball.
The A’s frustration boiled over in the sixth inning when Steve Sax was called out on strikes by umpire Al Clark. Sax protested, Clark ejected him and then Sax earned himself a certain suspension by slamming into Clark with a Sumo-quality chest bump.
Oakland’s woes began when Chili Davis hit a line drive right at first baseman Berroa in the first inning. Berroa feebly stuck out his glove and the ball ended up in the right-field corner.
And Berroa wasn’t the only player in gray and green to come up empty on this evening.
The struggles continued when Scott Brosius dropped Curtis’ popup near the mound in the second inning . . . and when shortstop Mike Bordick booted DiSarcina’s hard grounder later the same inning . . . and when Davis scored after advancing on a wild pitch in the third . . . and when Harold Reynolds stole third and scored on a throwing error by catcher Terry Steinbach in the third . . . and when Damion Easley reached first on Brosius’ two-out throwing error in the fifth . . . and when Davis scored after moving over to second on a Steinbach’s passed ball in the sixth.
The Angels needed all the help they could get. Their bullpen still hasn’t recovered from Wednesday night’s 13-inning victory over the Yankees and the early exit by Anderson only exacerbated the problem.
Bill Sampen pitched three innings, putting the A’s down in order in the second and third before giving up four consecutive hits and three runs in the fourth. Scott Lewis followed Sampen and yielded a bases-empty homer to Ruben Sierra leading off the sixth and two two-out hits and one run in the seventh. And John Dopson pitched the eighth and ninth innings.
In the end, the Angels were able to win their third game in a row. It was the first time this season they have managed to string together three victories, but considering the loss of Anderson for at least a month, was it worth it?
“It was really unfortunate,” Langston said. “As well as he’s pitched for us, he’s done such a great job, we really want him out there.”