The Angels' grim pitching situation grew grimmer Monday night, with Manager Gene Mauch left to grope in the dark for a replacement for John Candelaria, the latest Angel starting pitcher to join the disabled list.
On this evening, all Mauch could scrounge together were a few names from the unable list.
In case you thought Angel pitching couldn't get any worse, what with the demotion of Urbano Lugo to long relief, along came Mike Cook, Chuck Finley and Bryan Harvey to reach out and touch new lows in the Toronto Blue Jays' 12-0 rout of the Angels before an Anaheim Stadium crowd of 23,710.
Cook, making his first start in place of Candelaria, lasted five innings, allowing five runs. He gave up a three-run home run to Ernie Whitt in the second and a two-run home run to Lloyd Moseby in the fifth.
Then, in the seventh, things got really bad.
So bad that the Blue Jays sent nine batters to the plate before one of them hit into an out.
So bad that Angel fans began cheering strikes.
So bad that when Harvey retired Mike Sharperson for the first out of the inning, he was greeted with a standing ovation.
Toronto scored seven runs in that inning. All of them were charged to Finley, who began the inning and allowed seven straight hitters to reach base.
In this fashion did the Angels go down to their third straight defeat--their fifth loss in their last six games--and fall to .500 (19-19) for the first time since May 1. It marked the third game in the past week that Angel pitching had allowed 10 or more runs in a game.
Monday's defeat also dropped the Angels 3 1/2 games off the pace of the first-place Kansas City Royals in the American League West.
Those in attendance could appreciate Blue Jays' starter Jim Clancy (6-2), whose presence on the mound assured that at least some major league caliber pitching would be seen this night. Clancy threw a two-hitter, yielding singles to Mark McLemore in the sixth and Devon White in the seventh and nothing else.
Of course, two-hitters against the Angels are nothing new for Clancy. He had two of them last season in 7-3 and 2-0 victories over California.
"He's in the upper echelon--right there with (Scott) McGregor, as far as we're concerned," said Brian Downing, whose team was just coming off its 20th all-time loss to the Baltimore Orioles' McGregor on Saturday.
"Clancy throws his glove out there and we're in trouble. He's got as hard a sinker as anyone and a really good slider for the right-handed hitters. Combine that with 12 runs and you're gonna have a good night."
As in, good night, sweet Angels.
Clancy walked just one, struck out nine and did not allow a base runner beyond first base. He retired the Angels in order six times.
But the Angels' lack of offense was dwarfed by the ineptitude displayed by the first three Angel pitchers--all of whom were in the minors at this time last season. Only veteran Gary Lucas, who worked a scoreless ninth inning, emerged unscathed.
Cook (1-2) had earned a spot on the Angels opening-day roster as the 10th pitcher on a 10-man staff and spent the season's first six weeks employed as a middle reliever. His ERA after 10 relief appearances, 5.50, didn't merit a start.
Only the circumstances did.
The first batter Cook faced, Tony Fernandez, lined a sharp single to right. It was the first of three hits for Fernandez, but it did not hurt Cook, who got out of the inning with the assistance of a double play.
Things broke down in the second. Cook walked Barfield and wild-pitched him to second. Willie Upshaw beat out an infield single to first by beating Cook to the base.
Then, on his first pitch to Whitt, Cook fell behind, 3-0, as he served up the Toronto catcher's second homer of the season.
In the fifth, Cook yielded another single to Fernandez before Moseby's home run. Cook was gone as soon as he could finish the inning, winding up with a five-inning, six-hit, five-run outing.
But compared to what was to follow, Cook was positively smashing.
Finley, who had been scheduled to start tonight's game before Mauch decided to pitch 42-year-old Don Sutton on three days' rest, came on and worked a perfect sixth inning.
Then came the seventh, which would prove to be one of the most imperfect innings in recent Angel history.
Finley faced seven hitters. All of them reached base. All of them would eventually score.
First, there were singles by Sharperson and Fernandez. Then, a botched play by Dick Schofield, who threw wildly to third on a force attempt, enabling Fernandez to score and the hitter, Moseby, to reach second base.
George Bell followed with a two-run single. Jesse Barfield and Upshaw followed with back-to-back doubles.
At this point, Mauch finally interceded to spare Finley.
"Finley couldn't throw the ball any place but in the hitters' eyes," Mauch said. "And that's very dangerous."
On came Harvey, the rookie recalled from Double-A Midland (Tex.) last Friday, who immediately walked Whitt, surrendered a single to Kelly Gruber and wild-pitched Upshaw home.