CLEVELAND — As rain fell on Municipal Stadium, eventually washing out Thursday night's game between the Angels and the Cleveland Indians after a 1-hour 28-minute delay in the bottom of the first inning, thoughts in the visiting clubhouse turned back to Wednesday night and the Angels' exhausting 7-6 victory in 14 innings.
The first consideration was the casualty list.
One outfielder, Brian Downing, had his left arm sheathed in elastic wrapping, protecting the bruised triceps he suffered when he was hit by a Doug Jones pitch in the eighth inning.
Another outfielder, Gary Pettis, had undergone X-rays for a possible shoulder dislocation resulting from his diving catch on a ball hit by Andy Allanson in the sixth inning. The X-rays proved negative, but when Pettis woke up Thursday morning, he couldn't lift his right arm above his head. The Indians' team doctor, John Bergfield, diagnosed it as a shoulder bruise that could sideline Pettis through the weekend series at Chicago.
Manager Gene Mauch said he expected Downing to be available for tonight's opener against the White Sox. "He might come back very quickly," Mauch said. "Who knows with Brian Downing? Things don't hurt him as long as they do other people."
Pettis is one of those other people. Mauch was asked if his center fielder would be able to play in any of this trip's four remaining games.
"My guess is no," Mauch said. "He didn't have any trouble raising his arm--he just couldn't. It even hurt him when (the arm) was raised for him.
"He was afraid he'd dislocated it when he came back to the dugout. But the X-rays showed no evidence that the shoulder had slipped out and back in again. There was none of the raggedness (in the shoulder joint) that you normally see with a dislocation."
Mauch figures to start either Devon White or Ruppert Jones in Pettis' place. Thursday night, after a 32-minute delay at the start, the Angels opened with an outfield of Jones in left, White in center and Mark Ryal in right.
Other discussion centered on Chuck Finley, Wednesday night's winning pitcher. Actually, it was needling, with several teammates kidding Finley about the fast one he apparently pulled on the umpiring crew.
According to videotape and several eyewitness accounts, just before Finley delivered the game's final pitch, he balked.
The setting was this:
With Julio Franco on third base and two out, Finley readied himself on the mound to pitch to Cory Snyder. With his foot on the rubber, Finley leaned in to read the sign from catcher Darrell Miller, leaned back and then peered in again.
Technically, that constitutes a balk. Angel radio announcer Ron Fairly pointed it out during Wednesday night's broadcast. His first two words: "Uh oh."
Said Fairly: "I called it right away. (Finley) leaned, went back and leaned again. He was on the rubber and he was going forward and then he stopped. I thought it was a balk, but Cleveland didn't dispute it. And (umpire Dave) Phillips said the motion wasn't enough to notice."
Finley went on to strike out Snyder to end the game. Had a balk been called, Franco would have scored the tying run, and who knows after that?.
The Angels and the Indians could have kept playing into Thursday's rainstorm.
"It was so late, the umpire didn't want to call it (a balk)," joked Kirk McCaskill.
Ray Chadwick told Finley: "I could see it from the bullpen. It looked like you did a double-take out there."
Finley disputed it all.
"It didn't look like a balk to me," he said after sitting through several screenings of the videotape. "I kind of looked in, came back and looked in again. And I stepped off the rubber. I just couldn't see the signs."
According to Finley, it didn't help much, with the game having progressed past midnight.
"It was dark," Finley said, "and he'd already put down three signs. What am I going to do--change it around and throw something he wasn't ready for, have the pitch get away from him and the runner score from third?"
So Finley got closer . . . and may have gotten away with bending of the rules.
McCaskill considered it justice. On July 10, the Angels lost a 12-inning game at Boston when rookie Todd Fischer was cited for a balk with the winning run on third base.
"Maybe the umpires felt sorry for us," McCaskill said.