BOSTON — Angel catcher Chris Turner was staring at the dingy walls in his cramped hotel room last week, feeling miserable.
He had just been given a one-way ticket to Vancouver, and with the way he was hitting, there were no guarantees he'd ever return to the big leagues.
"Until I went down there," he said, "I forgot how bad it really was. It was a culture shock.
"I just thought, 'Wow, what am I doing here? Triple-A isn't for me. Man, if I ever get another chance. . . . ' "
In a bizarre set of circumstances, Turner not only was back in the big leagues, but lying awake Tuesday night in his luxurious hotel room wondering if this was all a dream after the Angels' 10-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Who could blame him?
Turner, too embarrassed to even look at the scoreboard because of his .138 batting average, produced one of the finest offensive performances by a catcher in Angel history.
Turner went five for five with two doubles and two runs batted in, joining Bob Boone as the only catchers in Angel history to produce five hits in a game, and the 25th position player to accomplish the feat for the Angels.
For an encore, he stole home in the second inning on a botched pickoff attempt when teammate Gary DiSarcina got in a rundown. He became the first Angel catcher to steal home, and the first non-outfielder since Rod Carew in 1981.
"I don't think Turner wants to go back to Vancouver," Angel Manager Marcel Lachemann deadpanned.
Turner's offensive prowess finally enabled the Angels to shed a 684-day jinx at Fenway Park, where they won for the first time since Aug. 20, 1992, after 10 consecutive losses.
The Angels provided starter Chuck Finley (6-8) more runs than he had to work with in his last five starts combined. The Angels--entering the game with the league's lowest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage--pounded out 17 hits against the Red Sox pitching staff before 26,199.
"When we scored three runs," Finley said, "I thought it was awesome. They kept coming in the dugout and saying, 'There you go. There you go.'
"I said, 'Hey, I'll tell you guys when it's enough.' "
Certainly, it was the Angels' finest moment of the trip, and it came at the right time, considering General Manager Bill Bavasi stopped in to get a firsthand look at what was happening. It was only the Angels' second victory in eight games, and their 12th in 35.
"There's not a sense of urgency to do something right now," Bavasi said. "To me, that's akin to panic. That's when you make stupid moves. I don't think anybody is excited about our win-loss record (35-49), but the fact is that we're (six) games behind, and we're in a pennant race. We're going through a rough time, but I think we have a chance of straightening things out."
Said Lachemann: "You have to be patient, and when you do that, you're going to go through rough times. You've got to let these kids play. If you keep vacillating your plans, you're not going to get anywhere."
Then again, how do you explain the fate of Turner, who was supposed to still be in triple-A?
The Angels decided June 28 that he no longer could hit big-league pitching, and banished him to the minors, bringing up veteran Andy Allanson. Little did they realize that Allanson already had a broken index finger, and on Sunday, had no choice but to bring Turner back.
"I know a lot of people think I can't hit," said Turner, whose average jumped to .182, "so hopefully I've changed some thinking.
"I just had no confidence before. I even stopped looking at the scoreboard a month ago because I was so embarrassed.
"It didn't matter who I was facing, I was just trying to keep from striking out.
"I look at this as a new beginning."
So do the Angels.