The Angels almost lost a game they had no business losing. Or maybe it was that they won a game they had no business winning.
Sound confusing? Imagine being in Manager Marcel Lachemann’s place, sitting in the dugout on a muggy, 92-degree night at Comiskey Park.
The Angels built a seven-run lead, lost it, rallied to tie, then pulled ahead to win in the 10th inning, 11-10, over the Chicago White Sox.
“This was one of those games that wears you out,” Lachemann said, running a hand over his face. “I get emotionally drained.”
Monday’s game was tough to figure.
Starter Chuck Finley was brilliant for three innings, then faltered for the next two.
The Angels scored three runs in the first inning and four in the second, then went silent until the seventh.
Catcher Greg Myers, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth, delivered the game-winning home run to lead off the 10th. He went 23 games before Sunday without hitting a home run, but has homered in consecutive games for the first time this season.
Rookie reliever Mike James stopped the White Sox for 2 2/3 innings and gave the Angels a chance to rally. He improved to 3-0 with his second consecutive victory.
Closer Lee Smith began the 10th by giving up a single to catcher Barry Lyons, benefited from first baseman J.T. Snow’s leaping stab of Ozzie Guillen’s line drive and held on for his 29th save. The Angels are 32-6 when Smith pitches.
Snow grabbed Guillen’s drive, which appeared destined for the right-field corner, and stepped on first to double up Lyons. Smith then got Lance Johnson to fly out to end the game.
Bobby Knoop, the Angel bench coach, positioned Snow behind the runner a few pitches before Guillen connected.
“He had me positioned perfectly,” said Snow, who made a similar play in Friday’s 8-5 victory over Minnesota. “Two steps back gives you time to dive either way. He hit it and I put my glove up. I didn’t have time to think. I just reacted.”
For a while it seemed the Angels wouldn’t need diving catches, the services of their closer or home runs in extra innings. They hammered Chicago starter Mike Bertotti, making only his fourth career start, for seven runs and five hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Finley, usually a slam dunk to win with a seven-run lead, then went south to begin the fourth, giving up two runs. The White Sox polished him off with four runs, including Mike Devereaux’s three-run homer, in the fifth.
Neither John Habyan nor Bob Patterson could hold Chicago as the White Sox caught and passed the Angels with four runs in the seventh.
But they got nothing more. The Angels chipped away at Chicago’s 10-8 lead, eventually tying the score on Snow’s run-scoring single in the ninth and going ahead on Myers’ solo homer in the 10th.
“I don’t think it surprised me,” Myers said of the Angel comeback. “You’ve seen the way we’ve hit all year. I don’t think you can ever count us out. We were always upbeat and confident we could come back. It was only a couple of runs and we’ve had big innings before.”
The seven-run margin was the largest overcome by Chicago this season and the largest the Angels had blown. The Angels lost a six-run lead to Texas on June 28 at Arlington, Tex.
“The good thing was we gave up the lead, but didn’t quit,” said Chili Davis, who homered, singled and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. “Normally, when we get a lead like that it’s not going to be an 11-10 game. We’d like to give Chuck a seven-spot every time out there.”
The White Sox apparently couldn’t wait to take their cuts against Finley. He wasn’t very kind to them during or after an 8-4 victory June 18 at Anaheim Stadium.
He said then, “After the first inning, I felt those guys were ready to roll over and die.”
On Sunday, Guillen fired back: “The only thing I’d tell him is that he had better win or he’s going to take a lot of [abuse] out of our dugout. . . . He’s never been on a winning team all his life and he’s spent a lot of years in the big leagues.”
In the end, the only visible anger shown on the field came from Chicago Manager Terry Bevington, who was thrown out by plate umpire Ken Kaiser for arguing balls and strikes. The game was four pitches old when he was tossed.