About the best news the Angels have had in the past couple of days has come from Detroit, where the Tigers have kept the Texas Rangers from taking over the lead in the Western Division.
At home for the Angels, it's simply a slow start to the second half of the season. Not that they're not getting some hitting or pitching; it's just not coming on the same night.
After scoring 5 runs on 10 hits and losing to the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday night, the Angels got a fine pitching performance from Kirk McCaskill Friday night, only to be beaten, 2-0, by Blue Jay pitcher Jim Clancy before an Anaheim Stadium crowd of 31,672.
The 6-foot 4-inch, 220-pound Clancy, with little room for error, lasted the until the Angels put runners on first and second with one out in the ninth inning. But Toronto Manager Jimy Williams brought in side-armer Mark Eichhorn, who needed six pitches to get Brain Downing to fly to left and to get Jack Howell to force Rob Wilfong at second, ending the game.
Clancy, twice on the 21-day disabled list in 1984, when he won only nine games, looked as good as new in holding the Angels to two hits in six innings. Make that good as old--he had 13, 15 and 16 victories the previous three years.
In search of win No. 10 of '85, against 5 losses, Clancy faced only one threat from the Angels, who had 13 hits in a losing effort the night before. The hit came in the fifth, when Dick Schofield walked, went to second on Bob Boone's sacrifice bunt and went to third on Ruppert Jones' ground out to first. But Gary Pettis ended the inning with a ground out to short.
Clancy followed that up with an easy sixth inning: a ground out by Wally Joyner and fly balls to left by Reggie Jackson and Rob Wilfong. The Angels also went 1-2-3 in the seventh.
Clancy had walked four batters in the first five innings, but the Angels were doing little to help their own cause as Schofield was the only one to get past first. In addition, a one-out single to right by Jones in the third was erased as Pettis hit into a double play, and Joyner's single to center to leadoff the fourth got him only as far as second after a ground out.
Offensively, Toronto didn't exactly look like the Blue Jays of Thursday night, when they had scored 8 runs on 10 hits, but what they did this time was enough for Clancy. In fact, until Lloyd Moseby converted a walk into a run in the sixth on singles by Jesse Barfield and Willie Upshaw, the lead was only 1-0.
The Blue Jays got that early lead after Tony Fernandez, leading off the game, doubled to left-center, Pettis missing on an attempted backhand catch at the ankles. Rance Mulliniks moved Fernandez him to third with an infield out, and George Bell got the run in with a bloop single to right, just out of Bobby Grich's reach.
McCaskill looked impressive despite being behind. He had come into the game with a 10-5 record, including wins in four of his last five games and six of his last seven. He was 4-2 in June and began July by going 2-0 with a 1.00 earned-run average.
When the Angels played a three-game series at Kansas City last month, Manager Gene Mauch said Dick Howser looked in good health, although one Royal coach mentioned that Howser was bothered by a stiff neck. So Friday's news that Howser, the Kansas City manager, has a brain tumor caught Mauch by surprise. "I'm pulling like hell for him to be all right," Mauch said. "He's an outstanding baseball man and an outstanding person. I just want him to be all right." Said Toronto Manager Jimy Williams: "It kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?" . . . Veteran pitcher Vern Ruhle has been called up from Edmonton, where he was 0-1 with a 3.81 earned-run average in eight games. Ruhle, who will join the team today, has spent 12 years in the majors, five in the American League, and pitched in post-season play with the Houston Astros. . . . Bob Boone moved passed Ted Simmons into fourth place on the all-time list Friday night by catching in his 1,746th game. Gabby Hartnett is at No. 3 at 1,790. . . . Reggie Jackson came in hitless in his last nine at-bats but needing only two runs batted in to tie Ernie Banks for 15th place on the all-time list at 1,636. . . . Rick Leach, who quarterbacked the University of Michigan to the Rose Bowl in the late 1970s, started at designated hitter, batting .325 with two home runs and 18 RBIs in 58 games. . . . The Angels will salute Don Sutton next Wednesday night.