The California Angels used home runs by Reggie Jackson, Mike Brown and Bob Boone tonight to defeat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-2, and help bring about a four-way tie for first place in the American League East Division.
The Orioles, who had won 12 of their last 15 games, are tied with Toronto, which lost to Chicago tonight, 7-4; New York, which edged Texas, 6-5, and Detroit, which did not play. All four teams are 54-40.
Tonight's game was billed as a grudge match between Oriole pitcher Mike Boddicker and Angel Rod Carew.
Carew had said some rather uncomplimentary things--calling Boddicker a Little League pitcher and garbage pitcher--when they faced each other July 15 in Memorial Stadium.
But that controversy was quickly forgotten when the umpires, headed by crew chief Rich Garcia, threatened to walk off the field if the Angels continued to show controversial plays on their electronic scoreboard.
The threat, while made once before this season, is bizarre considering the Angels' message board is little more than a blur of black and white dots. Picture definition hadn't been invented when this board came to Anaheim Stadium.
Boddicker, who was able to fool Carew (retiring him three times tonight) and few else, lasted only five innings, giving up four runs and eight hits. He got Carew to ground out twice and strike out once.
Boddicker's exit went virtually unnoticed, because that was when the new controversy errupted. After Angel outfielder Brian Downing grounded out to end the inning, he walked by Garcia and started arguing over a called third strike two innings earlier.
That brought out Angels Manager John McNamara, who had been thrown out by Garcia on Thursday. The traditional baseball argument ensued and McNamara was once again tossed from the game.
At that point, Buzzie Bavasi, executive vice president and general manager of the Angels, issued a statement: "The Angels will not be intimidated by an umpire, although Garcia's vindictiveness does show in his umpiring."
Also lost in this controversy was a fine seven-inning performance by Angel left-hander Tommy John. The Orioles got one run off John in the fourth when Eddie Murray walked, moved to third on Gary Roenicke's double and scored on a wild pitch. The other run came in the eighth on John Shelby's fourth home run of the year.
Jackson's home run came in the second and gave the Angels a 2-0 lead.
A .216 hitter entering tonight's game, Jackson definitely had been swinging poorly, but he might have started a reversal.
"Several times I've gone extended periods without one (a homer), but usually I'd still be swinging the bat well," said Jackson. "When you don't swing the bat well, it's different.
"No question it felt good," he said of his first homer since June 18 and his 13th overall this season. "It got a load off me and the fact that it happened in a game we won felt even better."
After the game, Boddicker dismissed any problem between he and Carew. "He's right," Boddicker said. "I throw garbage. I have to to get him out."
Carew agreed. "I am (going to apologize). I don't want the kid to think I had any malice toward him. We all experience frustration and this was nothing personal."
Boddicker was feeling plenty of frustration. "I stunk," Boddicker said. "I got the fastball up and I didn't get my slider down. It wasn't a sparkling performance."