The Angels appeared more concerned with fighting the Boston Red Sox than beating them Tuesday night, and they expended so much energy on the former, they didn't have much left for the latter.
Boston's 6-4 victory before a paid 27,822 at Anaheim Stadium--the Red Sox's 18th victory in their last 20 games and the Angels' second consecutive loss--seemed like an undercard to a brewing main event that, amazingly, never materialized.
Several times the teams seemed on the verge of a bench-clearing brawl, but not a punch was thrown during a tension-filled game that included three hit batsmen, one ejection, several arguments and flaring tempers.
"If they want a scream, we'll scream, if they want to fight, we'll fight, if they want to throw at people's heads, we'll throw at people's heads," Angel third baseman Tony Phillips said, still fuming in the Angel clubhouse.
"But nobody is going to intimidate us. They have a bunch of great guys on their team, but once you go between the lines, I'm going to protect my teammates. I don't care how big those guys are, nobody's going to back down here."
Boston starter Roger Clemens fired the first salvo when he threw a fastball past rookie Garret Anderson's head in the second inning. "That started the whole thing," Angel Manager Marcel Lachemann said.
Angel starter Mike Harkey countered by nailing catcher Mike Macfarlane on the back of the helmet in the top of the fourth.
Plate umpire Tim McClelland gave Clemens a warning before the bottom of the fourth, and as Phillips approached the plate, he exchanged words with Macfarlane. Phillips and Macfarlane started a brawl at Fenway Park on June 8 that cost Phillips a three-day suspension and $1,500 fine.
Phillips began jawing with Clemens, challenging him to a fight, and Harkey emerged from the dugout, ready to hit someone with something other than a baseball. Order was restored, but after Phillips grounded out and Edmonds popped out, Clemens hit Salmon in the hip with what appeared to be a fastball.
Salmon, perhaps the Angels' least-likely candidate to charge the mound, jogged to first, while Phillips stalked back and forth in the Angel dugout, and reserve Spike Owen screamed at the umpires.
"What irritated our side was a warning was given, then Salmon is hit and nothing is done?" Lachemann said. Baseball rules dictate that a pitcher who is deemed to be throwing at a batter after a warning is subject to an automatic ejection, fine and possible suspension.
"Are there two sets of rules, one for Roger Clemens and one for everyone else," Lachemann said. "When [Clemens] hit Salmon, he's out of the game, as far as I'm concerned."
McClelland said he thought Clemens threw a change-up, "and if I thought he wanted to hit him, he would have thrown a fastball. That's why I didn't eject him."
Informed of this, Lachemann simply shook his head.
After Salmon was hit, Chili Davis homered to center, the first hit of the night off Clemens, to pull the Angels to within a run at 3-2. But the game turned ugly again in the top of the fifth.
Harkey buzzed a pitch under Jose Canseco's chin, and Canseco responded by drilling Harkey's next offering over the left-field fence for a two-run homer that gave Boston a 5-2 lead.
Canseco admired his shot from the plate area, flipped his bat aside and didn't begin his trot until the ball was rattling around in the bleachers, raising the ire of the crowd--and the Angels.
Harkey stared Canseco down at first and, after Canseco slowly circled the bases, crew chief Davey Phillips called Kennedy and Lachemann out for a summit.
"He basically said that was enough," Lachemann said, "that both teams were in a pennant race and he was going to start ejecting people, which could lead to suspensions."
Peace hardly had a chance. As crew chief Phillips returned to the infield, he made a brief detour to the Angel dugout to toss the jawing Owen out of the game. Owen shot out of the dugout, only to be grabbed by the back of his jersey by Lachemann, who spun Owen out of Phillips' way.
More arguments. More delays. Play resumed, but the situation had deteriorated to the point that when Mike Butcher relieved Harkey in the sixth, McClelland gave him a warning--before Butcher had thrown his first pitch.
The Angels went down swinging, but too much aggression may have cost them in the end when they blew a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth.
With Phillips on second and Jim Edmonds on first and one out, Salmon doubled to right, scoring Phillips to make it 5-4. But Edmonds took too big a turn around third on the play and was caught in a rundown and eventually tagged out by Macfarlane while Salmon took third.
Red Sox second baseman Luis Alicea, who has done extensive damage to the Angels with his bat--he's hitting .462 (12 for 26) against them this season--then made a defensive gem, diving to grab Davis' one-hop smash up the middle and throwing Davis out to end the inning.