The final act of spring training for the Angels and Dodgers, the Freeway Series finale, wound up in tatters Sunday afternoon--with the Dodgers' 9-7, 11-inning victory leaving in its wake some survivors, some casualties and at least one wounded.
Survivors: The Dodgers' Sid Bream and the Angels' Tommy John, who both came to spring camp as roster longshots and who both wound up claiming vindication. Bream, who had a single, a double and a triple Sunday, was chosen most valuable player of the Freeway Series. John, who pitched five shutout innings the night before, was named outstanding pitcher of the series.
Casualties: Dodger pitcher Larry White, who earned the win and finished with a spring ERA of 2.40, only to find himself sent to Albuquerque at day's end; and the Angel defense, which committed five errors--including two in a comically disastrous 11th inning.
And, the wounded: Dodger second baseman Steve Sax, who was upended by Bobby Grich in a first-inning collision at second base and wound up leaving Anaheim Stadium on crutches, hobbled by strained ligaments in his right leg.
The injury isn't a serious one--the crutches are a precautionary measure--and with a little tape and a little rest, Sax says he'll be ready to play by Opening Day on Tuesday.
It remains questionable, however, if the same can be said for the teams that stumbled around for 11 innings Sunday in front of a crowd of 37,888.
The Dodgers were in position to win the game in the 10th inning when Bream delivered his third straight hit--and eighth of the three-game series--a two-out double to right that scored Greg Brock from first base for a 6-5 lead.
But in the bottom of the inning, the Dodgers gave the lead right back.
An error by Dodger shortstop Dave Anderson put the Angels' Doug DeCinces on second base and a single by Bobby Grich brought him home.
That forced a 6-6 tie and an 11th inning. For embarrassment's sake, the Angels could have spared themselves the trouble.
For in the 11th, the Angels' defense disintegrated. Juan Beniquez bobbled and dropped Bill Russell's dying liner to left for a two-base error. Then, DeCinces fielded a bunt by Anderson, whirled and fired to third in an attempt to throw out Russell.
One problem: No one was covering third.
Shortstop Craig Gerber, who was supposed to be there, was still at shortstop. The ball went careening down the leftfield line and Anderson scored easily.
That was error No. 5 for the Angels. The Dodgers soon after scored run No. 9 and were on their way to winning the Freeway Series, two games to one.
There was no possible defense for the Angels' lack of defense, but Manager Gene Mauch tried to shrug off the errors.
"He wanted that sucker bad," Mauch said of Beniquez and the sinking line drive. "He tried to catch it with both hands but just couldn't hold on."
Of Gerber's lapse, Mauch said: "We had a play on. He's supposed to be there. . . . (But) he's a bright guy, I don't think he'll make the same mistake again."
All in all, it was a pretty clumsy way for the Dodgers and the Angels to close spring training. But for Bream and John, Sunday was a marvelous day.
Bream's bid to make the Dodgers' final 25-man roster was bolstered by his being named the team's outstanding rookie of spring training. But his Freeway Series performance clinched it.
Bream went 5-for-5 during the first two games and wound up 8-for-10 for the series.
"This spring," Bream said, "I think I showed them that I can hit for a little bit of power, that I can hit left-handers, that I can hit different pitches and that I can play defense. I don't think I could have had a better spring."
John could appreciate those sentiments. Considered by some in the Angel organization to be washed up at 41, John entered the Freeway Series still uncertain of his job status and left in possession of the Lefty Phillips Memorial Trophy, symbolic of the Freeway Series outstanding pitcher.
John finished the spring with an ERA of 1.80 in 15 innings. That was enough to convince Mauch that John belonged in the Angels' starting rotation.
"Gene and I had a good talk this morning," John said. "He said, 'You threw well all spring, I'm proud of you, you outpitched everybody else here. I'm giving you the ball.'
"I said, 'Fine.' . . . This spring, I just wanted to pitch well enough to impress any club that wanted to trade for me. As it turned out, I impressed Gene enough to stay here.
"I've never had a spring like this in 22 years. After last year, I had to show everyone that I wasn't over the hill."
So, for Bream and John, it was a spring to remember--even if the final chapter was one the Angels and the Dodgers would both probably choose to forget.
Freeway Series Notes
In addition to sending Larry White to Albuquerque, the Dodgers made another player move Sunday, buying the contract of the contract of non-roster pitcher Tom Brennan from Albuquerque. With Brennan, the Dodgers' Opening Day roster is set at 25. . . . The Angels have three more cuts to make after trimming their roster to 28 by sending first baseman Wally Joyner and third baseman Jack Howell back to their Mesa training complex for re-assignment, optioning pitcher Curt Kaufman to Edmonton and placing first baseman Daryl Sconiers on the rehabilitation list. Manager Gene Mauch said the final cuts will be made today following an 11 a.m. team workout. . . . Steve Sax injured his leg on a pickoff play at second base in the first inning. Angel pitcher Ron Romanick tried to catch Sax leaning but his throw went into center field. Bobby Grich, while diving for the ball, rolled into Sax, clipping him just below the right knee.