Chuck Finley’s luck is getting better. The Angels’ luck, well, that’s pretty much a given.
The Angels saw Finley’s eight shutout innings go for nothing Thursday, as they could not muster a run and paid for it when the New York Yankees finally broke through in the 10th. Tino Martinez followed three consecutive walks by reliever Rick DeLucia with a two-run double in the Yankees’ 3-0 victory in front of 42,915 at Edison Field.
On the upside for the Angels, Finley wasn’t carried off on a stretcher.
Finley went eight innings, striking out nine. It was the type of performance the Angels would like to see more of, which is why they are still making pitches for an arm before tonight’s trading deadline.
They are one of four teams in the running for Toronto’s Juan Guzman, who already helped the Angels by shutting out the Texas Rangers on Thursday. The Angels, like the Dodgers, are interested in St. Louis’ Todd Stottlemyre and Montreal’s Carlos Perez. And everyone, it seems, has inquired about Kansas City’s Tim Belcher.
But it was the bullpen that let the Angels down Thursday. DeLucia entered in the 10th and couldn’t find the plate. Mike Holtz came in and gave up the double to Martinez.
Still, the Angels remained a game ahead of Texas in the AL West and Finley was still standing.
Finley has been drilled by line drives four times this season, once while sitting in the dugout.
The most recent came in his last start, when a Jeff King line drive ricocheted off Finley’s elbow. In the start before that, Finley left after ripping a gash in his right knee when he lost his footing covering first base.
Add those to last season’s mishaps--the tumble he took backing up home plate (broken wrist) and the bat that hit him in the eye (another broken bone)--and it’s little wonder that the mere mention of Finley’s name makes his teammates nervous.
“Chuck? The man in the plastic bubble?” shortstop Gary DiSarcina said.
“He’s had so much stuff happen to him, that he’s due for some good breaks.”
His luck improved Thursday. The only bad break was the fact the Angels couldn’t get him a run. They didn’t have many opportunities against Yankee starter Andy Pettitte and squandered those.
The Angels had two on with two out in the first, but Dave Hollins struck out. They had two on with two out in the sixth, but Garret Anderson grounded out. They had two on with two out in the ninth, but Cecil Fielder grounded out.
They had two on with two out after the Yankees had taken their 3-0 lead, but Orlando Palmeiro grounded out to second to end the game.
Anderson did extend his club-record hitting streak--the longest in the major leagues this season--to 27 games with a second-inning single. But he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
So Finley was left to go it alone. The question was, could he?
“What [pitching coach] Marcel Lachemann and I are concerned about is what shape Chuck is in,” Manager Terry Collins said before the game. “He’s left a couple games early and we’ve held him out a couple times.
“But you know Chuck. He can warm up and throw 100 pitches on the first day of spring training.”
From his mouth to Finley’s ears. Finley threw 126 pitches Thursday. He gave up four hits and walked four.
This is nothing new where the Yankees are concerned. Finley is 15-8 lifetime against them and has won eight of his last nine decisions. The Yankees had two on with one out in the first, but Finley got Bernie Williams to foul out and Martinez to ground out. Finley got out of the third by striking out Martinez looking with the bases loaded.
“Chuck’s the type of pitcher who rises to the competition when he goes against the best teams,” DiSarcina said. “He thrives on situations like that.”
That would include a victory on opening night, when he outpitched Pettitte. The two went at it again Thursday.
Pettitte went seven shutout innings, giving up seven hits. And Finley was masterful, if unlucky.
Still, he was able to walk off the mound instead of being knocked off it.
COLD STOVE LEAGUE
While everyone waited for the big names to move, the Braves acquired Greg Colbrunn and the Red Sox got Mike Stanley. C10
* ANGEL REPORT, C10