Friday afternoon, the Angels announced the re-enlistment of their 39-year-old Gold Glove catcher, Bob Boone, reputed to be the finest handler of young pitchers in the sport.
Friday night, they demonstrated one more time why they need him.
For the fourth time in six games, the Angel pitching staff was strafed for 10 or more runs, this time by the Boston Red Sox in a 12-3 Angel defeat before 50,352 at Anaheim Stadium. One night after rookie Willie Fraser was pounded by Detroit in a 12-4 loss, second-year man Urbano Lugo was staggered for eight runs in five innings as the Angels lost for the sixth time in seven games.
The club's losing streak stands at three games, and its record rests at 12-12. Since John Candelaria and Donnie Moore combined to shut out the Minnesota Twins, 1-0, on April 19, Angel pitchers have allowed 90 runs in 13 games--an average of seven a game.
And no one has been hit harder than Lugo (0-1), whose earned-run average hovers at 9.27 after five appearances.
After the latest shelling, Angel Manager Gene Mauch was asked if Lugo would receive another start. Mauch said he would.
"Here, or somewhere else?" one reporter asked.
Mauch wasn't amused.
"One more of those and this (interview) is over with," Mauch snapped. "Don't be making jokes at my expense."
Mauch, who has been preaching patience with the Angels' young pitchers, was on the verge of losing his. He had said the first month of the season was no time to panic and that he was "still sorting things out in his mind" after Fraser's rough go Thursday.
Lugo further scrambled the situation Friday. "This didn't simplify things any," Mauch admitted.
The Angels knew they were facing long odds before the first pitch, throwing Lugo against 1986 American League Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. For one inning, they tinkered with the improbable--taking a quick 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by Wally Joyner--but then Lugo and the odds caved in.
In the top of the second inning, Boston's Ellis Burks tied the game with a two-run double. Then, Wade Boggs delivered his first of two home runs, a three-run shot in the fourth inning. An inning later, Dwight Evans matched it with another three-run homer, and Lugo limped off in possession of an 8-2 deficit.
Gary Lucas came on to mop-up in the sixth inning, only to get cleaned up himself.
Lucas yielded Boggs' second home run, a two-run drive over the right-field fence, and issued single runs in both the seventh and eighth innings.
Boggs did this despite a sore right shoulder, injured during a bench-clearing fight at Seattle Thursday night. "Not bad for a one-armed man," Boggs said.
Of course, Angel pitching can heal the lame in a hurry. To say this staff is in disarray is putting it nicely.
Boone tried to say as much during his press conference at Anaheim Stadium.
"It's been a little discouraging over the last few days, but I think talent is there," Boone said. "My job is to get the maximum out of these pitchers. That's one of my assets, helping whoever's out there throwing the ball.
"But," he added, "if the pitching is no good, I can be the smartest guy in the world and won't be able to do a thing."
Good thing Boone spent the evening with the Palm Springs pitching staff. Another night in Anaheim might have caused him to reconsider.
Lugo made it easy on Clemens (2-2), who limited the Angels to six hits and three runs over eight innings. After Joyner's home run, Clemens held the Angels scoreless until the eighth, when Joyner singled, moved to third on a double by Doug DeCinces and scored on a groundout by Dick Schofield.
Clemens struck out eight and walked three before giving way to reliever Calvin Schiraldi, who pitched a perfect ninth inning.
Former Angel Don Baylor officially began the Boston onslaught by opening the second inning with a single. Evans followed with a walk, and Mike Greenwell drove a Lugo pitch deep into the gap in right-center. Only a sprinting, running catch by Angel right fielder Devon White kept the ball from clearing the bases.
Lugo then walked Glenn Hoffman to load the bases and, an out later, Burks delivered his two-run double, his first major league hit.
Burks, who was recalled from Pawtucket on Tuesday night, had another double and a single, going 3 for 3 with a walk.
Again, testimony to Angel pitching.
Is this any way to pay tribute to Bobby Grich, which the Angels did before Friday's game?
Said Mauch: "Bobby Grich had a better night than we did, didn't he?"