BOSTON — On the momentum of a 12-3 victory over the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox Sunday, the Angels officially began their All-Star break--four days after Oil Can Boyd unofficially began his.
There is a connection there. Until Boyd pulled his bizarre disappearing act after learning that Roger Clemens wouldn't be needing a roommate Tuesday in Houston, the Red Sox were counting on their right-hander to start the series finale against the Angels.
But then Oil Can (11-6) went on the lam and the Red Sox countered with a suspension, a minimum of three days in length. Boyd was out of the rotation--for how long, no one really knew--and into the fray was thrown rookie Jeff Sellers, owner of a 3-3 record.
The Angels threw Sellers, and four successors, back. By the time they had gone through, in order, Sellers, Tim Lollar, Bob Stanley, Joe Sambito and Mike Brown, the Angels had amassed a dozen runs and 17 hits, their highest hit total this season.
Before Sunday's game, sometime during a three-hour rain delay, Boyd returned to Fenway Park to apologize to his teammates.
He should have been there for another apology afterward, this one directed toward the Boston pitching staff.
Consider what Oil Can's absence wrought:
Dick Schofield had a home run, a double and a single. Brian Downing had a home run and a single. Doug DeCinces had two singles and a double.
And Wally Joyner, one day after setting the all-time Angel record for most RBIs by a rookie, tied another team standard: most consecutive games with a run driven in. The record is 10, set by Fred Lynn and now shared by Joyner following his two-run single in the top of the ninth.
Not to be obscured by the Angels' offensive deluge, however, was the fact that John Candelaria, post-op, remained unscored upon.
Candelaria (2-1) gave up just two singles through 5 innings, running his scoreless streak to 10 innings since returning from the disabled list.
"This is a good way to finish one hell of a road trip," said Manager Gene Mauch, whose team went 7-3 during stops in Toronto, Milwaukee and Boston to maintain a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL West.
"It's gonna be nice to sit on 7-3 and run it through in my mind for a couple of days. It's a lot better than going into the break, having to wrack your brain, trying to find a way to right things."
Mauch has been there before. And after Thursday's 12-inning throwaway, there seemed a chance he would find himself there again.
But Friday, Mauch got a shutout from Kirk McCaskill. Saturday, Mike Witt had a 2-1 lead before Bill Buckner golfed an ankle-high curveball into the right-field seats. And Sunday, the Angels pulled a Fenway thug job on the team that made 12-3 poundings famous.
Some interest still remained when Schofield delivered his home run. The Angels led just 1-0 in the fourth inning when Schofield connected against Sellers.
Schofield bounced the ball off the very top of the Green Monster in left field. And here is where it gets tricky.
Where the green paint ends, home-run territory begins. Third base umpire Terry Cooney said the ball hit above the green. Left fielder Jim Rice and the Red Sox contended the ball landed inches lower and was still in play, keeping Schofield where he was--at second base.
Home run? Double or nothing, the Red Sox argued.
Replays were inconclusive and the Angels weren't sure. "I didn't see it at all," Schofield said.
"I thought it hit something gray, like the light standard or a brace," Mauch said.
Cooney waved his hand above his head, signaling Schofield's seventh home run of the season and giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.
The controversy would wane once the Angels buried the Boston bullpen.
In the sixth inning, Schofield struck the green wall again--this time for a double, no doubt about it. But this double drove home two Angels runners, good for a 6-0 lead.
In the seventh, Downing hit a two-run home run. In the eighth, Gary Pettis and DeCinces both lined two-run singles.
And in the ninth, Joyner had his record-tying single.
Joyner now heads to Houston, where he and Witt will represent the Angels in the All-Star game. For the rest of their teammates, it's three days off to consider a significant split in Boston--a four-game series that might have gone better for the Angels, but could have certainly been worse.
Black Thursday, with its 12th-inning blunders and game-ending balk, gave this series an early look of an Angel tailspin, before recovery was sighted.
"We played well enough to win three of four," Joyner said. "But we're happy splitting after that first one. We took two of the last three. It meant we outplayed them from Thursday on."
It could be something worth remembering come October, if and when. On their last regular-season visit to Fenway, the Angels came within one pitch--and one non-pitch--of a four-game sweep.