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A Sweet 16th as Joyner, Angels Return to First

July 08, 1986|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE — On and on and on the Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers played Monday night. They played so long, the final out was recorded on Tuesday morning. They played so long, the Brewers had to replace their base coaches. They played so long, the winning pitcher wound up in the hospital.

But they had to play until someone scored. So, the Angels and the Brewers brought on the 16th inning, still groping for the first run of their series opener after 15 innings of zeroes.

And Wally Joyner, adding the latest unlikely chapter to a most unlikely rookie season, brought a climax to the American League's second-longest game of 1986--hitting an opposite-field triple with the bases loaded to finally break down the Brewers and give the Angels a 3-1 victory in front of 10,160 at County Stadium.

At 12:27 a.m. (CDT) Tuesday, Doug Corbett recorded the final out, bringing to a close 4 hours and 48 minutes of baseball. The first 4 1/2 hours had produced no scoring, but thanks to Joyner's triple, the Angels were rewarded for their endurance.

With the Texas Rangers losing to the New York Yankees, the Angels returned to first place in the American League West. Nobody said such a feat was going to be easy, but Monday, the going got ridiculous.

Angel Manager Gene Mauch called it his team's most significant victory of the season, coming on the eve--and eventually the morn--of John Candelaria's return to the starting rotation.

"I would have to say this game was the most important," Mauch said. "It was more important because of the people we used up in the bullpen, knowing that Candy wasn't going to go all the way (Tuesday).

"And for what, if you don't win?"

The Angels used three relief pitchers in support of starter Mike Witt, who pitched the first nine innings. Donnie Moore worked three perfect innings and received no decision. Corbett pitched the 16th and picked up his seventh save. Terry Forster pitched the 13th, 14th and 15th innings, got the victory--and a badly sprained ankle.

On the final play of the 15th inning, with two runners on base, Forster got Ben Oglivie to ground the ball deep to Joyner at first base. When Joyner fielded the ball, Forster had to hustle over to the base to cover.

Forster beat Oglivie in a foot race--barely--but tripped over the bag as he gloved the throw. Forster had to be helped off the field and taken to nearby Mt. Sinai Medical Center for X-rays and examination.

Word of his condition had still not reached the Angel clubhouse after midnight.

"I'm concerned," Mauch said. "And our trainers were a little more than concerned when they took him off (the field)."

In the top of the 16th, the Angels put together more hits than they had produced in the previous 10 innings--two. With Dan Plesac (4-5), Milwaukee's fourth pitcher, on the mound, Dick Schofield opened the 16th with a triple to right-center field.

George Hendrick and Gary Pettis followed with walks, loading the bases for Joyner. Joyner lined the ball into the left-field corner, snapping a 15-inning scoreless deadlock and bringing near an end to a game that threatened a couple of endurance records.

The Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox played 17 innings May 25. It was also the Angels' longest game since April 13, 1982, when they played 20 innings against the Seattle Mariners. That game required two days to play. The Angels also played 20 innings on April 13, 1963 in a 1-0 loss to the Oakland A's.

This one was so long that Milwaukee Manager George Bamberger not only had to replace his pitchers, but his base coaches as well. After 14 innings, first base coach Andy Etchebarren and third base coach Tom Trebelhorn had had enough. Bamberger sent out Tony Muser and Frank Howard as pinch-coaches.

All but forgotten by then was the duel of the starting pitchers, Mike Witt and Bill Wegman, who lasted 9 and 11 innings, respectively.

For nine innings, Witt matched Wegman in results, if not pitch for pitch. His was less than typical shutout stuff--five singles, two doubles, three walks, only five strikeouts. He retired the Brewers in order during just the third and eighth innings and had runners in scoring position in four different innings.

But Witt was bailed out repeatedly by his defense and some good fortune.

In the first inning, after walking Yount and surrendering a double to Cecil Cooper, Witt helped himself by grabbing Oglivie's come-back hopper and running down Yount for the out.

In the fourth, the Brewers had runners on first and second before Witt induced Rick Cerone to hit into an inning-ending force play. And in the fifth, Milwaukee had two more runners on base but again came away empty when Oglivie fouled to Ruppert Jones in right field.

The groundwork for extra innings was laid in the sixth when Earnest Riles led off with a single, Rick Manning followed with a double--and the Brewers still failed to score.

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