NEW YORK — Sunday's Angel-Yankee game got real ugly, real quick, and that was before New York scored eight first-inning runs against Mark Langston en route to an 11-3 victory in Yankee Stadium.
As Angel left fielder Tony Phillips came up to lead off the game, Yankee Manager Buck Showalter asked the umpires to confiscate his bat, although Showalter would not say if he thought it was corked.
After grounding out, Phillips returned to the dugout and launched an expletive-laced tirade that could be heard--quite clearly--all the way up in the press box, and he was still fuming three hours later.
"I lost a lot of respect for Showalter. . . .," Phillips said. "It's insulting. I bust my . . . for 12 years to become the hitter I am. . . . Why doesn't he check the bat of some guy who's hitting the ball 900 feet?
"A manager should have more to worry about than my bat being corked. . . . I'm struggling, and he takes my game bat away from me? I guess they see someone hitting home runs who's not supposed to, so they have to check my bat."
Said Showalter: "No one has more respect for Tony Phillips than I do. It's nothing he should take personally. It's just something within the rules that we wanted to do."
Phillips, who had a career-high 19 home runs last season after hitting only seven in 1993--and hit all six of his 1995 homers during a 10-game stretch from May 13-23--wasn't buying Showalter's explanation.
"They have to think the bat is corked for them to check it," he said. "Who do they think they're playing with here, a rookie? You can't mess with me like that."
Under major league baseball rules, a manager can have one bat confiscated per game. Crew chief Dave Phillips had the bat X-rayed after the game and took both the bat and X-ray to the American League office, which is expected to make an announcement on the situation today.
Cleveland Indian outfielder Albert Belle served a seven-game suspension last season after he was caught using a corked bat.
Dave Phillips said he "couldn't see anything" after a visual examination of Tony Phillips' bat, "but sometimes they do a good job covering it up." Phillips, who had two hits in the game, denied his bat was corked.
Angel Manager Marcel Lachemann said the incident "had zero effect on the outcome of the game," but it did seem to disrupt the momentum of a team that was going for its second consecutive three-game sweep of the Yankees.
Those hopes ended when Langston, who awoke Sunday with the security of knowing he would be an Angel for the rest of his career, had the worst start in his 12 major league seasons.
At midnight Saturday, Langston gained status as a 10-and-5 player, meaning he has been in the major leagues 10 years, five with the same team, and can veto any trade.
That put to rest recent rumors that Langston was headed to the Yankees or Cleveland Indians . . . and weren't the Yankees glad. Had Langston been traded, they wouldn't have had the chance to bomb him right out of the Bronx on Sunday.
Langston was rocked for eight runs and six hits in the first inning, and he also walked two before being replaced by Ken Edenfield with one out.
Paul O'Neill had a run-scoring double and RBI single in the inning, Mike Stanley had a two-run single, and Derek Jeter had a two-run double. The Yankees scored their fourth run on a fielder's choice, the only out Langston recorded.
The Yankees sent 13 batters to the plate during the 39-minute half-inning, which finally ended with Stanley's groundout and a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 22,833.
Langston's earned-run average ballooned from 3.74 to 5.28, and his one-third-of-an-inning stint equaled the shortest of his career. Playing for the Seattle Mariners, Langston gave up four hits and four runs in one-third of an inning against the Yankees on May 21, 1985.
When Lachemann finally came out to pull Langston, the pitcher returned to the dugout, sat down and stared out as if in a daze.
"It was like one of those times when you happen to wake up in the middle of the night, scream and go back to sleep," Langston said. "Unfortunately, it was reality today."