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Johnson Is Not Big Deal to Angels

Baseball: They get six runs against Big Unit in 8-1 victory over Mariners. Finley strikes out eight in eight innings.

June 04, 1998|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SEATTLE — A rather tall left-hander came through with another dominating performance in the Kingdome Wednesday night, and his name was not Randy Johnson.

Much to the dismay of Seattle Mariner fans expecting big things from their Big Unit, who started for the Mariners--and not the Dodgers--it was Angel ace Chuck Finley who came up huge.

Finley outdueled Johnson, giving up one run on six hits and striking out eight in eight innings, leading the Angels to an 8-1 victory over the Mariners before 24,944 in the Kingdome.

The 6-foot-6 Angel left-hander improved to 9-4 with a 2.93 earned-run average in the Kingdome and now has a 17-7 career record and 2.56 ERA against Seattle.

"Believe me, Randy Johnson is as great a pitcher as there is in baseball, but Chuck Finley doesn't take a back seat to anybody--nobody," Angel Manager Terry Collins said.

"From what I've seen the last two years, these are the two best left-handers in the game. It's too bad this game wasn't on ESPN or something. These are the kinds of matchups you like to see."

Some week this has been for Finley. He opened the trip with an 8 1/3-inning, five-hit, 10-strikeout performance Friday to beat Minnesota and returned to Orange County for the birth of his second daughter, Raine, on Monday. Then he was back on the mound Wednesday night to shut down a Mariner team that set a club record with 13 home runs in its previous three games and leads the major leagues with 97 home runs.

The Angels improved to 5-1 on their seven-game trip, which ends in Seattle tonight.

"I don't know how you can top this," said Finley (6-2), who threw 134 pitches Wednesday night, 79 for strikes. "I've already been blessed with the best you can ask for in life. It started with a win in Minnesota, everything went great with the birth of my daughter . . . you can't get much better than that."

You can't get much better against Johnson than the Angels were Wednesday night. Johnson entered with a 13-5 career record and 2.69 ERA against Anaheim, but the Angels ripped him for six runs--five earned--on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Cecil Fielder had three hits, including a run-scoring single in the seventh inning and a two-run homer in the ninth, Craig Shipley had three hits, and Damon Mashore, filling in for injured center fielder Jim Edmonds (who has a bruised left knee), had a key home run to pace the Angels' 14-hit attack.

The Angels snapped a 1-1 tie with a five-run seventh, a rally that began when Mashore jumped all over a flat Johnson slider as if it were a Kansas City player who sucker-punched an Angel teammate.

Mashore, who was last seen brawling with Royal infielder Felix Martinez during Tuesday night's game in Kansas City, pounded this 0-1 pitch to the left-field seats for a homer and a 2-1 lead.

Gary DiSarcina doubled to right with one out, Darin Erstad was hit by a pitch and Dave Hollins walked to load the bases. Tim Salmon grounded slowly to third, and Russ Davis threw to second for one out.

But Hollins got just enough of second baseman Joey Cora to prevent the Mariner from making a relay to first, and the hobbling Salmon was safe with an RBI fielder's choice.

"That," Collins said, "was vintage Dave Hollins."

Fielder then blooped an RBI single to center for a 4-1 lead, and Shipley singled to right to load the bases and knock out Johnson. Pinch-hitter Garret Anderson greeted reliever Mike Timlin with an RBI single to center, and when Ken Griffey Jr. bobbled the hit, Fielder scored for a 6-1 lead.

Finley did not allow a hit until the fourth, when Edgar Martinez followed a walk to David Segui with a double to right. But Finley fooled Glenallen Hill badly with an inside curve and then blew a fastball by him for strike three, and he struck out Davis with a nasty forkball to end the inning.

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