SEATTLE — Cookie Rojas will have a new sign above his locker in the Kingdome's visiting clubhouse tonight. The last one read Cookly Rojas --hey, he's still a rookly--but by the end of Monday night's game, a locker-room attendant, armed with a Magic Marker, was intent upon getting things right.
That's what 10 straight road victories will do for you. This latest one, an 8-4 Angel win over the Seattle Mariners before a crowd of 11,584, not only earned Rojas a properly spelled sign, it also enabled the Angels to set a club record for most consecutive victories on the road.
The Angels haven't lost a road game since July 5 in Toronto. After that, their streak has consisted of a victory in Toronto, four straight wins in Cleveland, four straight wins in Chicago and, now, a victory in Seattle. The previous record of nine was set last year.
You might say this team is making a name for itself.
Also garnering new-found attention in the Kingdome is Terry Clark. Only a month ago, he was pitching north of the border in Edmonton before a wave of injuries hit the Angels' rotation.
Clark rode that wave all the way to Anaheim--and has yet to lose a big league decision.
Since making his major league debut July 7, Clark is 4-0 in five starts. This one was his first major league complete game, a not-so-masterful 10-hitter that nonetheless got the job done.
The only time Clark failed to get the job done, last Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics, the Angels still managed to win. The A's knocked Clark out of the game after 6 innings, but the Angels rallied to win in 12, 9-8.
That victory began the Angels' most recent overall winning streak, now holding fast at six straight.
"He's the man that's kept us going," Rojas said of Clark. "When we lost Dan Petry, he came up here and won three consecutive starts before tonight--and the one he didn't win, we (still) won. He's been a big asset to the club, no question."
Monday, Clark's best asset was his stamina. He certainly didn't conquer the Kingdome or overpower the Mariners, surrendering a home run and a double to Jim Presley and two doubles to Scott Bradley.
But with an 8-2 lead going into the eighth inning, he had enough padding to grant a much-needed break to a bullpen that had worked to exhaustion in Chicago.
"We really needed rest for the bullpen," Clark said. "When I got to the seventh inning, I began to think about (a complete game). I knew I'd only thrown about 85 pitches. I knew if we scored a few more runs, and if I got some ground balls, I'd stay in the game."
Clark stayed, because he got those runs, courtesy of Devon White, Bob Boone and Tony Armas. All three hit home runs--White's going for two runs in the fifth inning, Boone's accounting for two runs in the sixth and Armas' bringing in three runs in the seventh.
"I never thought I could be 4-0, right out of triple A," Clark said, "but the way these guys score, it's pretty tough not to be 4-0."
That type of power production can also help bail out a team that ran into three outs on the bases during the first five innings.
The Angels trailed, 1-0, in the fourth when Brian Downing walked, Chili Davis singled and Thad Bosley doubled to center. Bosley's hit scored Downing and sent Davis homeward, but Seattle center fielder Henry Cotto made a strong relay to cutoff man Rey Quinones, who fired to Bradley for an out at the plate.
An inning later, Jack Howell walked and advanced to third on a hit-and-run single by Boone. Gus Polidor followed with a bouncer to third and Howell tried to score on the play. Not a good try. Mariner third baseman Presley threw him out, preserving a 1-1 tie.
Boone advanced to second on the play, waiting for White to step in for his third at-bat. But before White was finished with Seattle starter Bill Swift (6-9), Boone wandered too far off the base and got picked off.
The score was still 1-1 . . . and Swift hadn't gotten a batter out in the inning. And it stayed that way after White sent his ninth home run of the season over the wall in right-center field.
In the seventh, the Angels broke the game open with a single by Howell and a home run by Boone. Boone's fourth home run of the season paved the way for Swift's exit, and in the eighth inning, Swift's successor, Rod Scurry, got into more trouble.
Scurry opened the eighth by yielding an infield single and a stolen base to Wally Joyner, striking out Downing and intentionally walking Davis to get to Bosley's spot. There, Rojas interceded and called on Armas to pinch-hit.
One pitch later, Armas put the baseball in the second deck of the left-field seats and put the game out of the Mariners' reach.
Those are the type managerial moves that sustain improbable winning streaks. And set even more improbable club records. Make enough of them and, sooner or later, they'll manage to get you name right.