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Finley's Best Chance Is Washed Away

May 02, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Hard-Luck Chuck hit another rut Thursday night. Angel pitcher Chuck Finley had a 2-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox going into the bottom of the fifth inning in Fenway Park, but heavy rains forced the game to be called, three outs before the Angels could have been awarded a victory.

Because the Red Sox were trailing and the teams hadn't completed five innings, the entire game will have to be made up as part of a doubleheader, tentatively scheduled for July 26 in Boston. Had the fifth inning been completed, though, the game would have been official.

Finley sat out about two weeks of spring training because of shoulder tendinitis, and soon after he returned to the mound, he was hit in the face by an errant bat while standing next to the batting cage at the Angels' training complex in Tempe, Ariz.

The left-hander suffered a broken facial bone and a cut that required 19 stitches, and the injury knocked him out for about a month. Thursday was Finley's fourth start of the season, and only the second in which he has pitched extremely well.

"I tell you, my luck has been horrible," Finley said. "Hopefully I'm using it all up at the start of the season, but that's the way it seems to happen. You have no control over the weather."

Finley had given up only one hit and struck out four in four innings Thursday despite a 39-mph wind blowing straight out to left field, hardly a welcome sight for a pitcher in Fenway.

But no balls sailed over the Green Monster, and the Angels held the lead thanks to Boston first baseman Mo Vaughn's second-inning throwing error, which allowed two runs to score.

Rain forced a 17-minute delay in the bottom of the fourth, but the weather cleared, the tarp was quickly removed, and play resumed. But the rain returned just after Finley finished his warmup pitches for the fifth, and umpires eventually called the game after a 1-hour, 55-minute delay.

"I have no problem with the decision," Manager Terry Collins said. "It was supposed to rain for another hour [after the game was called]. We only needed three outs, but if the rain does stop, we'd play until 2 a.m. and wouldn't know what the outcome would be."

Because of Finley's short stint, Collins will likely shuffle his rotation so Finley can come back Monday against the Baltimore Orioles on only three days' rest. That will benefit an injury-plagued rotation in the short run.

But with another doubleheader already scheduled in Cleveland on July 28, the Angels will play five games in three days on that trip and 18 games in 16 days from late July to early August.

"That's the toughest part about this," Collins said. "We're looking at two doubleheaders on the same trip in July, and everyone knows doubleheaders are tough to win."


Turns out Jim Edmonds was at the root of Wednesday night's controversy, in which the Angels accused the Red Sox of stealing catcher's signs from second base, and Vaughn felt Shigetoshi Hasegawa's eighth-inning pitch that hit Wil Cordero was in retaliation for such tactics.

Edmonds, in the dugout, exchanged words with Boston third baseman Tim Naehring in an earlier inning. "They were tipping off location and I just told them not to be so obvious," Edmonds said. "I told Naehring, 'I'm watching you. . . . Be careful, someone's getting hurt.' But I never told any of our pitchers, and our catcher didn't know, either."

Edmonds said he spoke to several Red Sox players after the game, telling them, "We weren't throwing at them for that. It just happened to be a coincidence that Cordero was hit."

Said Naehring: "We have enough to worry about without stirring up this kind of controversy. We're not [stealing signs]. Let's hope it's all behind us and we can go from here."


Left fielder Garret Anderson, whose ninth-inning RBI single gave the Angels a 5-4 victory over Boston on Tuesday night, has 34 hits this season. Thirty-two of those are singles, hardly the kind of power figures you'd expect from an outfielder who hit 16 home runs in 106 games as a rookie in 1995. But Collins isn't the least bit concerned.

"I'm not going to change Garret Anderson one bit," Collins said. "Some say he hasn't hit for power, but I couldn't care less. He's an outstanding player who will hit some home runs, but if he keeps hitting .340, I won't change a thing.

"He can hit anyone, left-handers, right-handers, it doesn't matter. And the reason it doesn't matter is because he will take singles when that's all the pitcher is giving him."


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