The standing ovation he received from the paid Anaheim Stadium crowd of 34,674 as he walked from the bullpen to the dugout before Thursday night’s game sent chills down Jim Abbott’s spine.
“The response was overwhelming, flattering,” said Abbott, the Angels’ most popular player from 1989 to ’92. “The applause was very special, something I’ll always cherish.”
The game was not. The chills continued for Abbott, as the Seattle Mariners pounded him for 10 hits in a 10-7 victory, turning what the Angels billed as a “Class Reunion” into Fright Night at the Big A.
Abbott, in his first Anaheim Stadium start since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox last Thursday, gave up a run in the first inning, two in the third, one in the fifth and one in the sixth, as the Angel winning streak ended at eight.
He was also responsible for the first two Mariner runners in the seventh, who eventually scored when Mike Blowers blasted a grand slam to center against reliever Mike Butcher, highlighting a five-run inning that gave Seattle a 10-2 lead.
There were other halo horrors:
--Third baseman Tony Phillips’ two errors, one that led to an unearned run in the third and another that prolonged Seattle’s seventh.
--Center fielder Jim Edmonds slowing up as Dan Wilson’s bloop single fell in front of him and behind shortstop Gary DiSarcina in the seventh.
--Garret Anderson, the can-do-no-wrong left fielder, losing Tino Martinez’s liner in the lights as it fell for a double in the eighth.
The only masterful pitching performance came from Seattle’s Andy Benes. The Mariner right-hander, in his first start since being traded from the San Diego Padres last weekend, gave up only two runs and six hits in six innings and struck out nine before being relieved by Bill Risley in the seventh.
The Angels closed the gap on Edmonds’ three-run homer against Risley in the seventh and Jorge Fabregas’ RBI single, which made it 10-6 in the eighth, and they didn’t go down without a fight--or near fight.
Seattle reliever Bobby Ayala hit Phillips with a pitch with runners on second and third in the eighth, and Phillips, after flinging the ball away, had to be restrained by umpire Chuck Meriwether from approaching the mound.
Both dugouts and bullpens emptied, but no punches were thrown and order was quickly restored. Edmonds, with the bases loaded, smashed a one-hopper to Martinez, who stepped on first to end the inning.
The Angels added a run in the ninth, but Seattle left-hander Norm Charlton came on to retire three consecutive batters for the save, bringing an end to the 3-hour 42-minute affair.
“You play a game like that and it’s easy for everyone to quit,” Angel Manager Marcel Lachemann said. “But we battled. It wasn’t pretty, but we kept scrapping, fighting.”
That Abbott struggled against the Mariners in Anaheim should come as no surprise. He began the game with an 0-5 lifetime record against Seattle in Anaheim and lost his major league debut here to Seattle and then-Mariner pitcher Mark Langston, 7-0, on April 8, 1989.
But it did seem out of character considering his first Angel start, in which he pitched six shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
“Relieved? Yeah, sort of,” Abbott said of getting his return engagement out of the way. “I’m not relieved at the results. There are games when you beat yourself and games when the other team beats you, and the Mariners played a good game. But it’s over now. Maybe we can get on with the normalness of the rest of the season.”