MILWAUKEE — For the third consecutive game, the mighty Brewers offense managed to score only two runs. Yet the discussion following tonight’s loss focused elsewhere.
The talk was about the shaky and controversial sixth inning with the Angels batting and the Brewers leading 2-1. With Rod Carew on first and no outs, Doug DeCinces hit a grounder right at Jim Gantner for a sure double play. Or so it seemed.
“It should have been a double play,” Gantner admitted after the game. “I just got my hand in the way. It wasn’t a bad hop or anything, I just got my hand in too far and it hit the thumb on my bare hand.”
Gantner was able to get Carew at second, but DeCinces was safe at first.
Then, with the count full and the dangerous Reggie Jackson at the plate, Bob McClure threw a fastball that appeared to paint the outside corner for strike three. Instead, home plate umpire Rich Garcia called it ball four. McClure hopped up and down on the mound while catcher Ted Simmons looked back at Garcia in disbelief.
“Five or six guys came up to me after the game and said they were watching on TV and that it was right there,” McClure complained. “It was a crucial situation and he can’t miss those. I’m not blaming anybody but myself for getting into that situation, but he needs to be better than that.”
The call apparently affected McClure on the mound as Don Baylor then hit another sure double play ball, this time to the pitcher. McClure gloved it and threw to second, but the throw was high and Gantner was only able to get the force out.
With two down (and having had chances for five outs), Juan Beniquez tripled to left to score Carew and Baylor. Bobby Grich then launched a two-run homer for good measure, giving the Angels a 5-2 lead.
“Why is it when you make one stupid mistake, everything seems to fall apart?” Gantnter asked.
While all four of the runs were technically earned, the inning should have ended without a run scored. And had that been the case, the Brewers would have won.
But you can’t focus entirely on bad luck when the typically vaunted offense can’t score more than two runs. They score six or seven and this doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that the Brewers lost and both the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles won. Milwaukee’s lead in the AL East is now down to a much less comfortable 3 1/2 games.
Injury Notes: Rollie Fingers, who left the first game of yesterday’s double header with an injury, has a slight tear in his right forearm. He is expected to be out for at least a week. … Pitcher Moose Haas may miss a start after spraining his right wrist during warmups before the seventh inning yesterday. … Ben Oglivie will be out for at least 48 hours after taking a cortisone shot for bone bruises between his thumb and second fingers on both hands. The injury is caused by the pressure he puts on his hands when swinging.