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Sutton Provides Relief, and McLemore Adds Punch in Angels' Win

September 28, 1987|PAUL HOYNES | Special to The Times

CLEVELAND — Gene Mauch couldn't take it anymore. His stomach burned, his eyes watered, he didn't feel well at all.

In the first inning of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Indians, the Angel manager watched starter Chuck Finley walk five men, including Pat Tabler with the bases loaded. In the fourth, Finley only walked three, but one of them came with the bases loaded again.

"You know that old expression that goes, 'Walks will kill you,' " Mauch said. "Well, that's how I felt. I could feel the sickle coming around the corner."

So, Mauch did what any manager would do. He went to a pitcher who can throw strikes.

Enter 42-year-old Don Sutton, in his first relief appearance since the final day of the 1980 season when Sutton pitched for the Dodgers.

Sutton found the plate and pitched the Angels to a 11-8 victory over the Indians at Municipal Stadium, while Mark McLemore provided much of the offense, going 4 for 4 with 4 RBIs.

"I put Don Sutton out there in self defense," Mauch said. "I was getting deathly ill watching all the base on balls. I knew Don Sutton would throw strikes."

Sutton (10-11, 4.68) worked 4 innings for his 320th career victory. It moved him to No. 11 on the all-time win list.

Friday night, Sutton went the first five innings in the Indians' 7-5 win and came away with no decision. Between then and the start of Sunday's game, seven more Angel pitchers had walked to the mound so Sutton knew he might get the call.

"It was my day to throw," Sutton said. "When I walked out to the bullpen, (pitching coach) Marcel Lachemann told me that I could either throw in the bullpen or I might do my throwing in the game."

After Finley walked eight batters in 3 innings, Sutton replaced him in the fourth with the bases loaded and the Angels leading, 6-3. He struck out Pat Tabler to end the inning.

The only reason Finley lasted that long had to do with Indian starter Ken Schrom. He started the top of the first by walking Brian Downing and McLemore.

A single and a passed ball later, the Angels were leading, 2-0.

They added two more runs in the second for a 4-2 lead, but Schrom and the Indians' defense still wasn't finished. In the fourth, Schrom hit Downing for the second time and then watched Bill Buckner's grounder go through Tabler's legs at first base--see, Billy, it does happen to other people--as Gary Pettis and Downing scored for a 6-2 Angel lead.

That wasn't good enough for Finley.

"It was just a perfect situation for Sutton," Mauch said.

Sutton remembered his last relief appearance vividly. "There were two outs in the ninth inning against Houston," Sutton said. "There were a couple guys on and we were leading by two. I came in threw two pitches and got a ground ball to second and that was it. The next day we lost the division to Houston in the playoff game."

Sutton, who allowed three runs on four hits, had no problems until the eighth when a two-run homer by rookie Brian Dorsett made it 11-6. Sutton retired the next three batters to end it.

He does not plan on making a career out of relieving, though.

"I don't think this is the beginning of a new career for me," he said. "I just happened to get the ball over the plate and they hit it at the right people."

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