ANAHEIM — Early-season statistics can exaggerate both success and failure. But no matter how you looked at it, Angel pitcher Mark Langston didn't look right with an 8.44 earned-run average in the first week of May.
Langston's four-hit performance in eight-plus innings Wednesday against the New York Yankees in a 3-2 victory in front of 23,079 at Anaheim Stadium continued the process of putting Langston's statistics more in line with his prowess. His ERA has slimmed to 6.75.
Granted, much of the damage was done to Langston when he gave up seven runs in three innings in the first game of the season. And because he was slowed by a hip and groin injury, there had been only three subsequent starts to make up for that outing before Wednesday's game.
Through the first eight innings, Langston gave up only two hits, and the Angels held a three-run lead. But that lead became perilously thin in the ninth, when the Yankees scored two runs and had the tying run on first when Bryan Harvey ended the game by getting Mel Hall to hit a high pop foul to third. The save was Harvey's ninth.
Through the first seven innings, Langston (3-1) held the Yankees to one hit, Jesse Barfield's second-inning single to left. Otherwise, he retired them mostly on ground balls, pop flies and six strikeouts.
Tim Leyritz led off the eighth with a single to right for the Yankees' second hit. Barfield flied out for the first out, and then first baseman Lee Stevens made a leaping stab of Mike Stanley's sharp liner, doubling up Leyritz to end the inning. Langston glanced skyward after the play, and tapped Stevens with his glove in thanks.
Langston came back out for the ninth, but Charlie Hayes led off with an infield single. The Yankees broke through for their first run when rookie Dave Silvestri hit a fly to deep right-center. Junior Felix and Von Hayes couldn't make the play, Hayes scored and Silvestri was on third with a triple.
Harvey came in, and shortstop Gary DiSarcina made a great catch of pinch-hitter Kevin Maas' line drive for the first out. Don Mattingly's groundout allowed Silvestri to score from third, and Roberto Kelly singled before the game ended on Hall's foul pop.
The Angels finished with 10 hits, but only the three runs to show for them.
The Yankee starter, Melido Perez, retired the first seven batters in order, but the Angels struck with one out in the third. Rene Gonzales, in the lineup at second base, lined a single past diving Yankee shortstop Silvestri.
DiSarcina then dunked a fly ball into shallowest right-center. Barfield fielded it after it fell and gunned for Gonzales at third. The throw was five feet ahead of the runner, but third baseman Hayes was off the bag and Gonzales appeared to beat the tag.
But Gonzales also slid past the bag, and when third base umpire Ken Kaiser called him safe, judging that he got back without being tagged, Yankee Manager Buck Showalter came out to argue. The Angels had runners on second and third, and Luis Polonia's high-bouncing grounder up the middle went off Silvestri's glove and into the outfield, scoring both runners with a single.
Polonia reached second on a throwing error by Perez on a pickoff attempt. After Von Hayes struck out--and numerous attempts to pick Polonia off second--the inning ended when Perez and Silvestri finally successfully picked off Polonia.
The Yankee middle infield is in something of a fix. Mike Gallego, who left Oakland to sign as a free agent, was to be the shortstop, but he has yet to play a game and has been on the disabled list since March with a strained tendon in his right heel.
Randy Velarde had been playing shortstop with Pat Kelly playing second. When Kelly went on the disabled list April 21 with an injured left thumb, Andy Stankiewicz took over. But when Stankiewicz missed Tuesday's game with hamstring tightness, Velarde had to move over to second. Silvestri, a rookie, made his first career start Tuesday, and his second on Wednesday.
The Angels' attempts to add to their lead didn't amount to anything until the seventh inning, when DiSarcina's two-out single drove in Gaetti, who had doubled. Gonzales was stranded on third and DiSarcina on first when Polonia ended the inning with a grounder to first.
One of their futile innings was highlighted by a rare play in the fourth inning when Felix used his extraordinary speed to beat out a grounder to first, stepping on the bag an instant before Mattingly. However, he was then tagged out in a rundown after being picked off.