BOSTON — Fenway Park had another scare awaiting another Angel pitcher in the fourth inning Tuesday night. One evening, Willie Fraser can't dodge a Wade Boggs line drive. The next, Kirk McCaskill can't shake a lingering stiffness in his right arm.
Both evenings, both pitchers are gone before the end of the fourth.
McCaskill faced only 14 batters Tuesday before leaving a game the Angels would lose to Roger Clemens and the Boston Red Sox, 3-0. He began the fourth inning by giving up a single to Boggs, surrendered a home run to Jim Rice and walked Dwight Evans.
Then, he turned to the Angel dugout and motioned Manager Gene Mauch and pitching coach Marcel Lachemann to huddle up.
"He felt we better talk it over," Mauch said. "He's been told there aren't any medals given on this job. You better level with us or level with yourself. You get no medals here for bravery."
On the level, McCaskill told Mauch and Lachemann that his elbow, the one that was operated upon in April, never loosened up and that the twinge he felt in his shoulder wasn't going away.
"There was never any pain, just stiffness," McCaskill said. "I felt it before the game and it wasn't going away. After the third inning, I put some heat on it, but as soon as I started throwing in the fourth, I felt it again."
The conference on the mound didn't last long before Mauch called it a night for McCaskill.
"Now is not the time to pitch with it," McCaskill said. "Maybe a month from now . . . This is not the time to push anything."
Dr. Arthur Pappas, the Red Sox's team physician, examined McCaskill and discovered some tenderness in the right triceps muscle. Therein lies the connection between the elbow and the shoulder.
"He told me that because there's still some atrophy around the elbow, the whole muscle, all the way to the shoulder, could be sensitive," McCaskill said. "He said elbow stiffness is not uncommon after (elbow) surgery."
Nor is it uncommon for a pitcher having surgery in one joint--shoulder or elbow--to soon encounter problems in the other by trying to overcompensate after returning to action. Someone mentioned the name of Stewart Cliburn, the Edmonton relief pitcher who underwent shoulder surgery last winter and developed a sore elbow during spring training.
"I'm very aware of what happened to Stewart," McCaskill said. "I'm not going to jump to any conclusions. I don't look at this as a setback at all. It was just precautionary. Dr. Pappas says it should clear up with anti-inflammatories (drugs)."
Mauch preferred a different comparison, that to John Candelaria, who underwent a similar operation in 1986 and came back to finish 10-2.
"Candy told me a month, maybe six weeks ago, that he (McCaskill) is going to feel some sensations that are going to get your attention," Mauch said. "John said he went through the same thing.
"I am told by the trainers, and by McCaskill, that they don't think it's too serious. But when it's your bread and butter, it damn well better get your attention."
Through the first three innings, McCaskill (2-2) gave up three hits but no runs, which Mauch considered a step in the proper direction. In McCaskill's last start, he surrendered 7 hits and 5 runs in 3 innings against Milwaukee.
"His delivery tonight was more like the McCaskill I know," Mauch said. "His rhythm was more like McCaskill. He had himself under control. And, he had the presence of mind not to go for one of those medals."
McCaskill gave up the only runs Clemens (9-7) needed on the two-run home run by Rice. Jack Lazorko allowed Boston's other run on a bases-loaded single by Bill Buckner in the sixth inning.
For Clemens, it was his fourth shutout of the season, tops in the major leagues.
But the real attention-grabber was this number in Clemens' final pitching line: No strikeouts.
It was the second time this month the man Boston writers christened "Lord of the K's" failed to strike out a batter. He did the same in a 6-2 victory over Baltimore on July 1.
If there is any significance to be placed on this trend, Clemens wasn't in the mood to contribute.
"I threw all right," he said. "The Angels are a very aggressive team. They're a Minnesota-type team. I had to make good pitches and make sure they didn't get me early.
"Balls I usually get strikeouts on, fastballs up and in, I collected a lot of firewood (broken bats) on."
McCaskill didn't have any strikeouts, either, but that statistic was not foremost on Angel minds late Tuesday night. If McCaskill is able to make his next appointed start five days from now, as McCaskill hopes, the Angels will come away from Fenway satisfied.