TORONTO — Before the dissecting, analyzing and second-guessing could begin, Angel Manager Gene Mauch looked at the assemblage of reporters in his office late Monday night and simply rolled his eyes.
Without saying a word, Mauch said it all.
Somehow, Mauch's Angels had defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-7, in 11 innings at Exhibition Stadium after:
--Blowing a 6-0 lead in the seventh inning.
--Seeing John Candelaria forced out of that seventh inning with the injury that seems to be sweeping the Angel pitching staff--soreness in the rib cage.
--Replacing Candelaria with DeWayne Buice, who hadn't pitched in eight days because of rib soreness, and watching him struggle through a stretch that should have been monitored by the Humane Society, if not called off by Mauch. Buice faced 6 batters, allowing 4 hits and 2 walks as Toronto scored 7 times to take a 7-6 lead.
--Rallying to tie at 7-7 in the top of the ninth when Wally Joyner gambled by racing from first to third on a bloop single to center field and then scored on a ground out by Devon White.
--Pitching to George Bell, who has 41 home runs and 113 RBIs, with runners on second and third, with first base open and two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
--Retiring Bell and bringing on extra innings on a sharp grounder down the third-base line, with Doug DeCinces bouncing a throw off the AstroTurf that required some nimble glove-work by Joyner to barely beat Bell at first.
--Scoring the winning run on a passed ball with two outs in the top of the 11th.
Back in Southern California, Angel owner Gene Autry listened to all this on the radio and, when the four-hour struggle had drawn to a close, he was moved enough to place a phone call to Mauch.
Mauch knew what was coming. As the telephone rang in his office, Mauch grinned and predicted the first words he would hear once he lifted the receiver:
" 'Dammit, Gene . . . ' " Mauch was grinning when he said it. He grinned a lot after this one. They say it's better to be lucky than to be good and on this night, Mauch figured his team, for once, was the former.
"You can't imagine the difference this will make in the balance of the night for me," Mauch said. "As I have said before, we've been good for stretches this year, but we have yet to be lucky for a stretch of any length.
"Well, we got a couple of lucky breaks tonight."
The Angels won their third straight game, climbed back to .500 (66-66), moved to within three games of the first-place Minnesota Twins in the American League West and--for the first time this season--won a game in which they had trailed after eight innings.
A streak that had reached 0 for 57 was, on the last day of August, finally snuffed.
Mauch grinned again and punched the air with his right fist.
"Damn, I'm glad that's over with," he said.
Mauch could have said the same about Monday's game, which, in its own way, made some history.
"I've never had a six-run lead dissipate in a major league game," he said. "Never. I let a six-run lead get away one time in the minor leagues, when Jim Gentile hit a grand slam. Only that time, I did not win."
How the Angels gave away six runs to Toronto is something to marvel at. In this 11-inning affair, five Angel pitchers combined to pitch 10 scoreless innings.
But about that other one . . .
Candelaria strode to the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning, working on a 6-0 shutout. He opened the inning by allowing singles to Tony Fernandez and Bell, followed by a fly out and then a run-scoring double by Jesse Barfield.
At that point, Candelaria felt a twinge in his left side, and Mauch decided to chance it no more.
"It's nothing," said Angel physical therapist Roger Williams.
Said Mauch: "We were trying to keep it from becoming something serious."
So in came Buice, who hadn't pitched since Aug. 23 because of a similar rib ailment. Rusty? You want rusty?
Buice got pinch-hitter Rick Leach to hit a squib to the left of the mound, but once Buice backhanded the ball, he was unable to throw Leach out. That loaded the bases.
Buice then walked Fred McGriff and pinch-hitter Ernie Whitt, bringing home two runs. He walked Whitt after forging ahead on the count, 0 and 2.
Toronto's third pinch-hitter of the inning, Rance Mulliniks, doubled into the right-field corner, driving in two more runs. And Nelson Liriano, Blue Jay pinch-hitter No. 4, hit a bad-hop single off the glove of second baseman Johnny Ray, scoring Whitt with the game-tying run.
Still, Mauch stayed with Buice, who was obviously laboring. Fernandez followed with another single, bringing in the seventh run of the inning. Buice finally got an out when Angel right fielder Jack Howell and Ray teamed to throw out Liriano at the plate.
Finally, Mauch changed pitchers, summoning Greg Minton. Minton walked Bell but got Cecil Fielder, Toronto's 12th batter of the inning, to ground to second for the third out.
Mauch was asked why went with Buice through thick and thin--mostly thin.