It's not likely, but even Don Sutton--a guy who makes Mr. Rogers look like a pessimist--might have had doubts about his career after his first two starts in 1986.
He had just turned 41, was 0-2 and had an earned run average (23.14) that resembled the points allowed average of a bad NFL defense. He didn't gain his first victory until start No. 6, but he's been winning at a pace to rival his glory days with the Dodgers ever since.
He came into Thursday night's game against Toronto with six straight wins, which included a pair of complete games.
Just in case you were wondering if he made a deal with the devil or at least found the fountain of youth, rest easy. Sutton's mortality was most evident on this night at Anaheim Stadium. And there were 31,585 on hand who can bear witness.
The Blue Jays pushed the veteran right-hander all over the park in the fifth inning and before he could get an out, they had scored five times on four hits, including a two-run double by No. 9-hitter Damaso Garcia and a three-run homer by former Angel Rance Mulliniks.
About two hours and seven pitchers later, Toronto finally recorded the win, 8-5.
This one wasn't easy, or pretty, for that matter. The Angels had 13 hits, but committed three errors. The Blue Jays had 10 hits and one error.
And from the very beginning, it was obvious the films of the game weren't going to be saved for future use in baseball clinics.
The Angels got behind in a hurry, but it wasn't because Sutton was particularly ineffective. That came later.
The Blue Jays got a 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a walk, a single and some ineffective defense on the part of Gary Pettis, Bob Boone and Sutton.
Rance Mulliniks drew a one-out walk and Lloyd Moseby singled him to third. Then Sutton got George Bell to hit a shallow fly to center, but Pettis overthrew cut-off man Wally Joyner and Boone was unable to short-hop the ball.
Sutton, who was backing up the play, had a little trouble getting off a throw to Boone as Bell raced home ahead of the tag. Boone got the error.
Leadoff hitter Rick Burleson evened things up in a much simpler--and quicker--fashion, hitting Jimmy Key's second delivery into the seats down the left-field line. It was Burleson's fourth homer of the year and second leading off in the first.
The Angels had a chance to get to Key in the second when the left-hander walked both George Hendrick and Bobby Grich to lead off the inning. But Dick Schofield was unable to get down a bunt and eventually popped up before Boone grounded into a double play.
Boone, who also had a throwing error on Jesse Barfield's swinging bunt in the fourth, was having a night to forget. The Angels loaded the bases in the fourth on two walks sandwiched around a Grich single. But Boone rolled into another double play to end the inning.
By the fifth, Sutton was staggering. The magic that had carried him to six straight wins was no where in evidence when Toronto pounded him for five runs in the inning.
A walk, Ernie Whitt's single, Damaso Garcia's two-run double, a single by Tony Fernandez and Mulliniks' three-run homer to right sent the 41-year-old right-hander to the clubhouse and put his bid for career win No. 304 on hold. It also put the Angels in a five-run-deep hole.
They tried to start climbing out in the bottom of the fifth. Burleson and Joyner got back-to-back singles. Doug DeCinces, with an assist from catcher Whitt who dropped his pop foul in front of the screen for an error, looped a run-scoring single to center to cut Toronto's lead to 6-2.
Rookie reliever Chuck Finley, who replaced Sutton in the fifth, retired eight of the first nine Blue Jays he faced, four on strikeouts. But the one hit, a high chopper to third by Garcia, cost him a run when he yielded a run-scoring single to Moseby.
The Angel defense continued to be less than awe-inspiring. Downing bobbled Moseby's hit and the Toronto center fielder took second easily.
Another Angel rookie, Mike Cook, took the mound and couldn't find the plate. He walked both Bell and Barfield to load the bases.
Then Boone finally did something right, but not exactly the way he planned it. He tried to pick Bell off second and his throw in the dirt got away from Schofield. It bounded to Grich, though, who threw back to Boone just in time to get Moseby at the plate.
Joyner started off the seventh by beating out a grounder to the hole at short, giving him his 13th three-hit game of the season. That brought out Toronto Manager Jimy Williams, who brought in Mike Eichhorn.
Eichhorn struck out Downing and DeCinces, but pinch-hitter Rupert Jones crushed a line-drive homer to left, cutting the Blue Jay advantage to 7-4.