NEW YORK — Victory in the Bronx finally came to the Angels Monday. The results are in and this time they are official: Angels 8, Yankees 7.
After three days of walking up the down escalator, after three days of uncovering booby traps behind every base, the Angels at last struck upon a formula for success against the Yankees. It is worth remembering.
Winning At Yankee Stadium, made easy:
1) You fall behind, 3-0, in the first inning on a three-run home run off your best pitcher.
2) You rally from a 4-1 deficit by scoring five times in the sixth inning.
3) You allow the Yankees to tie in the seventh inning on a two-run homer by a reserve catcher with a .206 batting average.
4) You allow the Yankees to take the lead in the eighth inning by walking their No. 9 hitter, keeping the inning alive by bobbling a double-play ball and surrendering a bloop RBI single over third base.
5) That done, you then resort to tried-and-true strategy. You let Wally Joyner bat.
It didn't matter that the kid had only two singles in 14 at-bats against Yankee pitching. It didn't matter that the league's best left-handed reliever, Dave Righetti, was on the mound. It didn't matter that the Angels were down to their last out.
Wally World stayed open on Memorial Day. With Brian Downing on first base, the rookie powered an 0-and-1 slider from Righetti into the right-field seats for his 16th home run of the season.
The two-run shot ended a drought of nine days without a home run for Joyner. It also ended a winless string of five games for the Angels that saw the team tailspin from a lead of 1 1/2 games in the American League West to second place and a sub-.500 record.
Now, the Angels return home. They went 3-6 on this trip through Detroit, Baltimore and New York. It was ugly, but it could have been worse.
"I guarantee this will shorten that plane ride by several thousand miles," Angel Manager Gene Mauch said.
Credit Joyner for providing the added comfort. And it had to figure. The Angels definitely needed something out of the ordinary to conquer Yankee Stadium--and Joyner was due.
On this torturous trip, Joyner had seen a home run rained out. He'd been injured. He slumped at the plate. He was vexed by Yankee ground balls the past two days.
He hadn't had a storybook finish in almost two weeks. It all came back to him Monday against Righetti.
"This ranks probably above all the others," Joyner said. "To hit one off Righetti to win a game . . . it's always a great feeling to beat the Yankees."
Joyner paused to think about what he had just said. Before Monday, Joyner had played all of three games against the guys in pinstripes. He had lost all of them.
Mauch compared Joyner's latest home run to his blast at Minnesota, the game-winning home run he delivered the night the Metrodome roof fell in.
"This one is better--by this much," Mauch said, holding his thumb and index finger a half-inch apart. "This one was the difference between us going 1-3 and 0-4. This takes a lot of sting out of an ugly four days."
When Joyner touched home plate after rounding the bases, he was greeted by a handshake and a few words by Reggie Jackson. "Now, they know you," Jackson told him.
Later, Jackson elaborated, calling over to Joyner from a few lockers away.
"If you hadn't done that, you can be damn sure they would've rapped you," Jackson said, grinning. "They would've said, 'Oh, he can't take New York, he can't live up to the high billing, he gets to New York and he slows down.'
"But you got Righetti. The No. 1 reliever in the league. And, a left-hander. They know you now."
Joyner climaxed a long afternoon in front of 30,475 that saw the Angels ride the right arm of Mike Witt (4-4) as long as it could take them. Witt struggled through 8 innings, allowing 10 hits, 8 walks and all 7 New York runs. He gave up a three-run homer to Mike Easler in the first inning and a two-run homer to backup catcher Ron Hassey in the seventh.
But with Donnie Moore's shoulder ailing again, and with Doug Corbett having worked Sunday, Mauch's bullpen was depleted. Witt had to stay out there.
"He knew just what he had to do when he drove up to the park," Mauch said. "Seven innings for sure, eight would be better and nine would be perfect."
Witt started the ninth, struck out Dan Pasqua but gave up a single to Rickey Henderson. Finally, Mauch interceded.
Terry Forster came on to get the final two outs. They didn't come easily. Forster got pinch-hitter Dave Winfield to force Henderson for the second out, but yielded a single to pinch-hitter Gary Roenicke.
With runners on first and third, Forster faced Butch Wynegar. Wynegar hit the last pitch hard, but right at Downing in left field. Forster had his first save of the season and a five-game Angel losing streak was over.