SI Vault
 
TOO MUCH, TOO SOON
Peter Gammons
August 21, 1989
In a dramatic AL West series that should have been played in late September, the A's took two of three from the Angels in the teams' final meeting of '89
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
August 21, 1989

Too Much, Too Soon

In a dramatic AL West series that should have been played in late September, the A's took two of three from the Angels in the teams' final meeting of '89

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3

The Mariners beat the Angels 3-2 in 10 innings that night, which allowed the A's to pull even and exposed how fragile the Angels' success really is. The Angels may be first in the American League in homers, with 113, but they are next to last in doubles and don't have anyone on the club with more than 35 extra-base hits. For games in which they have failed to hit a home run, the Angels are 16-29. "We're in every game because of our starting pitchers," says Petry. "There's no real mystery to our being up there." Bert Blyleven, Chuck Finley and Kirk McCaskill are a combined 37-16, with a 2.54 ERA, and Angel starters have been knocked out before the sixth inning only 19 times all season.

It was fitting that Blyleven would start Sunday's game. On June 16 he ended a seven-game Angel losing streak by beating Detroit 9-4. On July 18 he ended a six-game slide by blanking Toronto 1-0. And on Aug. 2, he shut out the Mariners to stop a three-game streak.

On Sunday he had some help in halting the latest Angel skid. With the score tied 1-1 in the sixth, the A's had runners on first and third with none out when Dave Parker hit a pea to Joyner, who made a fine catch at first base, then doubled Lansford off the bag. In the bottom of the inning, Anderson lunged at an outside pitch and blooped a triple inside the rightfield line to knock in two runs.

Going into the ninth California led 4-3, and Bryan Harvey was pitching in relief of Blyleven. Phillips, leading off the inning, hit a fly to right that Armas nearly lost in the sun before catching on his knees. Javier followed with a fly to the same place, and Armas battled the sun again. This time White tried to cut in to make the catch, only to have the ball bounce off his glove as Javier raced to third. La Russa summoned Canseco and Dave Henderson to pinch-hit. Harvey struck out Canseco with a high forkball that caught the inside corner. Harvey then worked the count on Henderson to 0 and 2. The scene had an ominous familiarity.

"This is the fifth game, '86 all over again," A's third base coach Rene Lachemann told Howell. "If he throws a forkball, Hendu'll hit it out."

"He won't ever throw Hendu a forkball," the Angel third baseman replied.

In the fifth game of the 1986 American League Championship Series, with California ahead of the Boston Red Sox three games to one. Angel relief pitcher Donnie Moore threw a forkball to Henderson with one on and two out in the top of the ninth and the Angels leading 5-4. Henderson parked the pitch in the seats; the Red Sox came back to win the series. Moore, who committed suicide last month, is said to have been shattered by the episode. So when Lachemann saw what Harvey was throwing, he turned away. It was a forkball,

Henderson swung and missed, and the game was over.

"We played up there I two weeks ago] before three sellouts, and they won the final game, the one they had to win," said Rader. "We did the same. What's new? This season has been the story of two teams playing their tails off. It's just too bad it's August and we won't see one another again. My cardiologist is the only one who's happy about that."

1 2 3