It happened in Game 1 of the Angels' first-ever appearance in the playoffs, in the bottom of 10th inning. The score was tied, 3-3, with John Montague, veteran journeyman relief pitcher, beginning his third inning of work.
In the Baltimore dugout, Manager Earl Weaver poured over statistical data. Montague, Montague . . . Oh, yes. Came to the Angels in late August from Seattle. As a Mariner, he faced Lowenstein twice previously. And in those two meetings, Lowenstein had hit safely twice--homering once.
So, with one out and two runners on base in the 10th, Weaver knew who to send up as a pinch-hitter. And on an 0-2 forkball by Montague, the left-handed Lowenstein sliced a fly ball down the left-field line, traveling maybe all of 312 feet.
The left-field foul pole at Memorial Stadium is 309 feet away from home plate.
The Orioles had won, 6-3 . . . on an opposite-field home run . . . on an 0-2 pitch . . . in extra innings.
Afterward, Lowenstein was asked when he had last hit a home run to the opposite field.
"In 1958--in Little League," he said.
And in this series, it would be Lowenstein's only hit. He wound up one for six.
But because of that one hit, Baltimore wound up in the World Series.
What is it with Boston Red Sox outfielders? Dave Henderson. Jim Rice, who has 25 home runs against Angel pitching through 1988. Dwight Evans, who enters 1989 with 24 career home runs against the Angels.
Yastrzemski tortured the Angels for more than two decades, since the franchise's very inception. From 1961 through 1983, Yaz hit 36 home runs against the Angels. He drove in 164 runs. He batted .284, collecting 281 hits in 988 at-bats.
Two of those hits will live forever in anti-Angel lore.
One was Yastrzemski's home run off George Brunet in Anaheim Stadium on May 9, 1969. It nearly landed in Placentia. For the record, Yaz's blast was tape-measured at 518 feet, still the longest home run ever hit at the Big A.
The other came on July 9, 1972. It was only a single. But it broke up another Ryan no-hitter, representing Boston's only base hit in a 3-0 Angel victory.
Before there was Moore and Henderson, there was Moore and Thornton. The stakes didn't seem quite as high on Sept. 28, 1985, in Cleveland, but the consequence was another sour ending to a 90-win Angel season.
The Angels took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, needing only six more outs to move a game ahead of Kansas City in their race for first place in the AL West. Angel starter Don Sutton had limited the Indians to three hits through seven innings, but had thrown 89 pitches in the process--approaching his customary 100-pitch limit.
By mutual agreement, Manager Gene Mauch and Sutton decided to call on Moore, the Angels' All-Star reliever, on his way to a club-record 31 saves.
"It looked like a laugher to me," Mauch said. "Donnie Moore in the ballgame with a five-run lead. We already had it counted up."
Mauch was still counting when Moore served up a leadoff home run to George Vuckovich. Then came a single to Carmen Castillo . . . an out . . . a single to Tony Bernazard . . . an out . . . a run-scoring single to Julio Franco.
Then came Thornton, Cleveland's hulking designated hitter, staring at a 5-2 deficit with two runners on base. Moore delivered one pitch. Thornton delivered it over the left-field fence.
Instant 5-5 tie. Out went Moore, in came Stewart Cliburn, and the game entered the ninth inning.
Which brings us to . . .
Willard was the better-hitting half of the 1985 Indians' catching platoon, not a difficult thing to be when Chris (.139) Bando is the other half. Willard hit seven home runs in 1985, but none more significant than the one he drove out against Cliburn.
With his two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, Willard climaxed a Cleveland rally that turned a 5-0 Angel gimme into a 7-5 Angel giveaway. And it was a most expensive giveaway. One week later, the Angels would finish the regular season at 90-72. Kansas City, however, would finish at 91-71, just enough to win the West.
And those Royals would go on to win the AL playoffs and the World Series, upsetting Toronto and St. Louis in succession.
If not for Sept. 28, 1985, it might've been the Angels.
Blyleven might never decide to retire, so after 19 seasons, the Angels finally figured, what the heck, might as well end these headaches and find a way to bring the enemy over to their side.
It was a trade the Angels should have made about 18 years earlier. If they had, they would have been spared that 14-28 record they racked up against Blyleven, that no-hitter he threw at them in 1977 and all the embarrassment of flailing away so fruitlessly at all those curveballs.
Blyleven owns a 2.52 ERA against his current teammates. That's a \o7 career \f7 ERA, covering more than 389 innings.
The last Angel starting pitcher to complete \o7 one season \f7 with an ERA that low was Tanana, who fashioned a 2.43 mark in 1976.