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Candelaria Numb but Nimble in 7-1 Win

April 09, 1987|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

Young legs, old legs, numb legs . . . they all had a hand in the Angels' second straight 7-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners Wednesday night at Anaheim Stadium.

Gimpin' John Candelaria, finally testing the numbed right calf that has been foremost on Angel minds for more than two weeks, pitched 6 innings and, if he showed any difference, the Mariners were unaware of it. Candelaria allowed four hits and one run, struck out four and walked one while throwing 80 pitches.

More significant than that, Candelaria passed the agility test. Seattle bunted once and hit three other baseballs at him. Candelaria handled all of them with ease, looking downright nimble in the process. Leading off the seventh inning, Phil Bradley hit a chopper over the mound that Candelaria gloved with a leap before landing gingerly and tossing to first for the out.

Candelaria then struck out Alvin Davis and yielded a single to rookie catcher Dave Valle. At that point, Angel pitching coach Marcel Lachemann interceded, summoning Willie Fraser for his first major league relief appearance. Fraser worked the final 2 innings, surrendering a single to Harold Reynolds and striking out two.

Just as they had for opening-day starter Mike Witt, the Angel offense gave Candelaria seven runs to work with. They came in a variety of fashions.

Rookie Mark McLemore drove in two with a fourth-inning single and set up an eighth-inning run by beating out an infield roller wide of first base with a head-first slide. That moved Gary Pettis to second base, from where he scored on a single by Brian Downing.

Another rookie, Devon White, hit a first-inning triple only to be left stranded, so he got the fifth inning going by legging out a leadoff double. White's flare to left was shallow but before Seattle left fielder Bradley could retrieve the ball White was hustling into second. He later came home on a sacrifice fly by Doug DeCinces.

Then, perhaps ahead of schedule, the first two Angel home runs of the season were delivered.

The sources were not surprises--Downing, the 36-year-old designated hitter, in the sixth inning, and DeCinces, the 36-year-old third baseman, in the seventh. Thus, the Angels got to play with their new toy--a computerized home run-measuring device called the IBM Tale of the Tape. Downing's came in at 407 feet, DeCinces' at 366.

But the biggest hit of the night, no doubt, was Candelaria. He hadn't pitched since March 24, but in a move Manager Gene Mauch must have appreciated, Candelaria taped the ankle up tight, damned the numbness and took his turn in the rotation.

Old-time baseball.

Before the game, Mauch admitted that Candelaria would be watched closely.

"We want to make sure nothing funny happens on the grass," Mauch said, gesturing toward the slope of the mound. "If not, I expect him to pitch strongly for several innings."

Mauch also expected the Mariners to hit a few baseballs in Candelaria's direction.

"I wouldn't be surprised if they tested him," Mauch said. "And we intend to do something about it."

Mauch paused. He grinned.

"He might be throwing a smoke screen over all of 'em," he said of Candelaria. "Fine. Give him some easy outs."

If it was a ruse, it certainly worked. Candelaria retired the first five batters he faced, gave up a run on one hit in the third inning and retired eight straight hitters before surrendering Valle's single in the eighth. Seattle scored its lone run on a single and a stolen base by Reynolds, a sacrifice bunt and an infielder grounder by John Moses.

"People like John Candelaria never surprise me with their performances," Mauch said. "Nothing good he does will surprise me.

"I honestly believe he could've finished it. Arm-wise, I know he could've, but it's nice to know for the guy who did finish it (Fraser) to get out there and get the job done."

Doctors estimate that it could be six to eight weeks before the numbness leaves Candelaria's leg. Candelaria was asked if this is a situation he can live--and pitch--with.

"Until it subsides, I don't have much choice," he said. "It hasn't improved much. The strength has gotten better, but it's still numb. It's still kind of weak now, and I was a little concerned. But they wrapped it really good."

Candelaria said he had trouble on Moses' high chopper over the mound in the third inning, the ball that scored Reynolds from third.

"I should've caught that ball, but I just couldn't move, " he said.

Basically, all Candelaria could do was wind up and throw. And against Seattle Wednesday night, that was more than enough.

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