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This Time, Angels Don't Let a Little Rain Stop Them

May 21, 1986|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

BALTIMORE — It rained again on the Angels Tuesday night, but only a drizzle--not enough to clutter the schedule with yet another make-up game. This time, after back-to-back washouts, the Angels were finally able to play nine.

Yes, they remembered how it was done. The Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-4, before a Memorial Stadium crowd of 13,893.

But for certain team members, the memories had begun to brown on the edges.

Kirk McCaskill hadn't won a game in a month. Brian Downing hadn't driven in a run in nearly three weeks. Donnie Moore hadn't saved a game since May 1.

All three ended their droughts on a night the Angels were praying for a drought of another kind--a break in the rain.

"One rainout isn't too bad," Angel Manager Gene Mauch said. "Two, you can handle. But three would've been too much to take."

Tuesday, they kept the tarp off the field and allowed McCaskill, Downing and Moore enough time to indulge in a few flashbacks.

McCaskill (3-3) pitched 7 innings, striking out nine and allowing just one run until Cal Ripken delivered a three-run home run on McCaskill's final pitch of the evening. That brought on Moore, who hadn't pitched since May 8 because of a sore shoulder. Moore retired five straight hitters to earn his seventh save of the season.

In between, Downing recorded RBI No. 23 after being stuck on 22 since May 2. And it was, as they say, a big one.

Ripken's homer had sliced the Angels' lead to 5-4 as the ninth inning began. With two out and Rob Wilfong on first via a walk, Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver instructed relief pitcher Don Aase to intentionally walk Reggie Jackson.

That done, Aase settled in to face Downing. Four pitches later, Downing bounced the ball off the wall in the left-field corner for a double, scoring Wilfong for the Angels' sixth run.

It was merely insurance, but Moore considered that the best policy as he tested his shoulder in live competition for the first time in 12 days.

"That run made my job a lot easier," Moore said. "It took away the bunt and the hit-and-run. I only had to worry about throwing strikes. And, I was able to."

Moore struck out the first batter he faced, Larry Sheets. He also struck out John Shelby before retiring pinch-hitter Jim Dwyer and Alan Wiggins on fly-outs in a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

"Welcome back, Donnie Moore," Mauch said. "He didn't have a lot of fire out there, but he got by with a lot of forkballs."

Mauch said he would have preferred a less intense re-indoctrination for Moore. Something like mopping up in the ninth in a 12-2 runaway.

"I wanted him to have a softer go," Mauch admitted. "But that's what makes him what he is. He handles what he's presented."

Moore received a 6-4 lead courtesy of a seven-hitter by McCaskill--and a six-pack of two-out RBIs by his teammates.

With two out in the first inning, Jackson singled in a run. With two out in the second inning, Wally Joyner and Ruppert Jones had RBI singles. With two out in the third and eighth innings, Bob Boone, breaking out of a 2-for-23 slump, singled home runs.

And with two out in the ninth, Downing, at last, drove in a run.

Downing is batting .311 for the season--.346 in May--so he hasn't exactly been struggling. Downing blames the RBI-less streak on a lack of opportunities--derived mainly from the fact he hits behind Joyner in the batting order.

"I relish those situations, but this was only my second (RBI) chance in three weeks," Downing said. "I hit in the middle of the lineup and there's no one in scoring position. The guy in front of you has been knocking everybody in.

"Wally keeps hitting home runs. There's nobody on base after home runs. I almost feel like I'm a leadoff hitter again."

Downing looked like one in the third inning, reaching base on--get this--a bunt single.

"I usually get one of those a year," Downing said. "I think about it a lot, but I talk myself out of it. But this time, all the elements were there.

"I was leading off an inning, the pitcher (Mike Boddicker) has given me trouble in the past, and Juan Beniquez was at third base. Juan played with me for five years and probably saw me try one bunt."

Beniquez is also new to third base, moved there last week to replace slumping Floyd Rayford. Beniquez fielded Downing's bunt but threw wildly to first base. Downing wound up on second on the error and scored on Boone's first single of the night.

"Everybody tried to take advantage of me, when my arm was torn to shreds," said Downing, who was a tormented catcher with arm problems in the late 1970s. "It's nice to get a little payback."

And, for the Angels, it was nice to get in a little baseball between downpours. Maybe it will even stay dry again today--although, if you believe in omens, the outlook isn't good.

Baltimore's scheduled starting pitcher: Storm Davis.

Angel Notes

Dick Schofield stole his fifth base of the year in the eighth inning, tying him for the team lead with Gary Pettis. Schofield has been caught once, Pettis five times. . . . Ruppert Jones also stole a base, his fourth, after fouling a pitch off his ankle in the first inning. Gene Mauch eventually lifted Jones in the seventh inning because of the ankle. "It was getting puffier," Mauch said. "He should be all right tomorrow." . . . Wally Joyner's run-scoring single in the second inning increased his major league lead in RBIs to 38. Joyner has driven in 21 runs in his last 14 games.

The latest media angle on Joyner has been his friendship/alliance with Reggie Jackson. The Baltimore Sun Tuesday devoted a column to the duo, carrying the headline, "Reggie's Vision Helps Joyner See Bright Future." Time magazine is planning to co-feature them in an upcoming issue.

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