CHICAGO — Gene Mauch had an ember-red glow Wednesday night.
It was familiar. The Angel manager was unhappy . . . upset . . . angry after a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. His team was in last place in the American League West.
"All I can tell you is that I'm embarrassed as hell being in last with as many good players as we have," Mauch said.
Mauch would have tipped over the food spread, but he was too weary from a long season. One of his pitchers, Jerry Reuss, probably won't be invited to dine with the team next season. Not with a 6.20 ERA, he won't.
The 38-year-old left-hander lasted only 2 innings. His wild pitch in the third allowed Harold Baines to score and break a 2-2 tie. Reuss, who is 4-5 as an Angel after being 0-5 with the Dodgers and the Reds, had no comment after the game and left the clubhouse in a hurry.
"He didn't get any left-handed hitters out," Mauch said in disgust. "I think he walked three and gave up two hits." He did.
Mauch now has to live out the week with the thought that his team could be the first in more than 70 years to go from first place to last in one season. Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics made that kind of a slide from 1914 to 1915.
The Angels' only runs were off the bat of Jack Howell, whose home run in the second inning came with Devon White aboard on a single off winner Richard Dotson (11-12). It was Howell's 20th homer as the regular third baseman, Doug DeCinces having been released last week.
The Angels, meanwhile, wished DeCinces luck with the Cardinals, who signed him Tuesday. "We've all been talking about it," Brian Downing said. "Doug's played on a winner wherever he's gone, and now he's with another one.
"I don't know how his back will hold up on the artificial turf, though. He didn't have any trouble with it this year, but that turf'll kill you.
"Wouldn't it be something if the Mets come in to St. Louis this weekend, and DeCinces has to bat against John Candelaria? We're all waiting for that."
Candelaria was the first Angel veteran to go. General Manager Mike Port traded him shortly after the Angels fell from contention by losing 10 of their first 12 games in September.
"Doug was hitting .234 with 16 home runs and more than 100 runners left on base," Port said. "Now, if I told you I had a player with those kinds of statistics, you'd say, 'Throw the bum out.'
"Well, Doug isn't a bum, but you have to consider those stats as well as his age (37) and make a determination. "We determined it was time to go with Howell. We took heat for it, but felt it had to be done. "I wish Doug luck, too. He might be able to help that team."
A little help for the Angels might also be nice. Before Mauch gets too embarrassed.
Angel Notes General Manager Mike Port and his White Sox counterpart, Larry Himes, have made up, after Himes took a handful of Angel scouts with him to Chicago when he left his job as the Angels' director of scouting and player development late last October. "Everything's fine," Port said. "We sat together when the Sox were in Anaheim last week, and I'm to meet with him here. We're not talking trade. We're just discussing baseball in general." Willie Fraser (10-9) moved up to pitch tonight's series finale after Don Sutton pitched 3 innings of relief Sunday at Cleveland. Fraser's foe is ex-Stanford star Jack McDowell (2-0). McDowell is one of nine nominees for the amateur Golden Spike Award. He was 13-5 for NCAA champion Stanford. . . . White Sox Manager Jim Fregosi praised Tuesday night's Angel loser, Mike Witt. "I had him when he first came up in '81," Fregosi said. "I don't think he throws as hard now as he did then, but he's a better pitcher. Tom Morgan worked with him on getting the ball to sink. Mike sinks it real well now." . . . Witt lost, 1-0, to Floyd Bannister. "He threw hard," Angel Manager Gene Mauch said. "Except for Ozzie Guillen, he was in control. Guillen must have 800 hits off him." Brian Downing's 13-for-25 streak ended with an 0 for 4. The Angels had only one hit in the last four innings off Bill Long, a ninth-inning single by Devon White.