CLEVELAND — A baseball game that included 41 players, 21 runs, 29 hits, 4 errors and 3 wild pitches ended the way most of the 9,320 fans at Cleveland Stadium figured it would--on a botched play.
Angel third baseman Jack Howell booted a tricky ground ball in the 10th inning Saturday afternoon, allowing Brett Butler to score the winning run for an 11-10 Cleveland victory.
"The way these two teams went at each other today, you would have thought this was the most important game of the season," Angel Manager Gene Mauch said.
It wasn't, of course. It was merely a game between two teams going nowhere but home at the end of the season. It wasn't tough figuring out why, either. The Indians' 10th-inning rally typified the play for much of this game.
Butler opened the 10th with a single off Gary Lucas, the Angels' fourth pitcher. Following a sacrifice bunt by Junior Naboa, Joe Carter was intentionally walked. Lucas struck out pinch-hitter Carmen Castillo for the second out, and the fun began.
Butler and Carter moved into scoring position when Lucas threw a wild pitch that Brook Jacoby swung at and missed. Jacoby, however, did find a pitch he could hit and bounced to Howell at third. Howell booted the ball, and Butler scored to put an end, mercifully, to the 3-hour 50-minute game.
The Angels scored when the game was only three pitches old. Brian Downing hit Rich Yett's 0-and-2 pitch over the left-field wall for a 1-0 lead. It marked the sixth time this season that Downing had led off a game with a home run.
The lead didn't hold up long. Rookie Dave Clark's two-run single in the second off Angel starter George Fraser triggered a four-run inning. Downing cut the lead to 4-2 when he led off the third with his second home run of the game off Yett. It was Downing's 28th, matching the career-high he set in 1982.
Four more hits, including Bill Buckner's double that scored Wally Joyner, resulted in three more third-inning runs.
Clark then hit a three-run home run off Fraser in the third that gave the Indians a 7-5 lead. Fraser departed after three innings, giving up seven earned runs on eight hits.
A wacky sixth inning ended with the Angels scoring three unearned runs and taking an 8-7 lead. Dick Schofield reached base on an infield hit, and after Bob Boone flied out, Downing tried to check his swing but singled to left field. The Angels loaded the bases when Indian pitcher Don Gordon fielded Devon White's chopper and threw wildly to first base for an error.
Schofield scored on Joyner's grounder, and Mark McLemore, subbing for the injured Johnny Ray, hit a high-hopping double over Jacoby's head at first base to score Downing and tie the game, 7-7. An infield single by Buckner off Naboa's glove at second base scored Joyner, once more sending the Angels into the lead, 8-7.
No lead, however, was safe on this day. Butler's two-run home run off Angel reliever DeWayne Buice in the eighth gave the Indians a 9-8 lead. The Indians added one more run on Carter's RBI single to make it 10-8.
The Angels tied it in the ninth on pinch-hitter George Hendrick's RBI single and a fielding error by Butler.
Brian Downing had his second four-hit game of the season. An eighth-inning double made him the Angels' all-time leader with 220, surpassing Jim Fregosi. The Angels' Johnny Ray left the game in the fifth inning when, after doubling to left, he was hit in the jaw on the throw into Junior Naboa at second base. He was examined by Indian team physicians and taken to a Cleveland hospital for X-rays.