Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 53 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #50, a satisfying win over a hated rival...
September 17, 1986 - The Angels started the day at 83-60 with a big lead over second place Texas. The World Champion Kansas City Royals were not going to repeat and, at 68-77 were beginning a decline that would last decades.
Prior to 1986, the Royals had been the Angels greatest nemesis for ten seasons. They had won the AL West in 76, 77, 78 and 80, made the post season in the strike-shortened, two-halves post season of 81, 84 and 1985. They went to the World Series in 80 and 85 and win it all in the latter.
Seven postseason appearances versus two for the Angels. The Angels have recorded six walk off home runs against the Royals franchise but this one was probably the most satisfying as it came at the dusk of that heated divisional rivalry.
Don Sutton started for the Angels and allowed one earned run in seven innings pitched. Danny Jackson pitched into the eighth with only one run in his record. Doug DeCinces touched Jackson for a round tripper in the fourth and Hal McRae, pinch hitting for Buddy Biancalana, hit a solo shot to tie it to lead off the top of the eighth inning.
Bud Black came in to relieve the tie game and saw it go into extras under his watch. Doug Corbett did the same for the Angels. In the bottom of the tenth, Dick Schofield got a one-out base hit and Brian Downing blasted a pitch into the night for an extra inning tie breaking walk off home run. Final Score, Angels 3, Royals 1.
After a decade of dominance, the once great Royals were out of contention. The Angels were on their way to a division title. They had lost the division to the Royals by one game the previous year. Many seasons of frustration were exorcised with Brian Downing's sweet swing off future Angels pitching coach Bud Black.