Opening Day (April 1, 2013) is 58 days away. We are counting down the 100 Walk Off Home Runs in Angels franchise history. Today we look at #58, a come form behind extra inning walk off home run off the bat of a young Dante Bichette.
April 14, 1990 - Bert Blyleven wore a Halo but he was facing his old team, the Minnesota Twins, and many of the guys with whom he had won a world championship in 1987 put a hurt on him right away. A Kirby Puckett ground out scored Dan Gladden and a Kent Hrbeck home run made it 2-0 Twins before the first Angel even grabbed a bat.
Wally Joyner made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the first off of Twins starter Roy Smith. A Lance Parrish homer in the fourth drove in Claudell Washington to tie the game at 3-3 after MInnesota had gotten another run off of Blyleven in the third.
Johnny Ray broke that tie in the seventh with a run scoring double but Devon White was thrown out at home to end the inning and the scoring threat against Twins reliever Juan Berenguer.
Angel reliever Willie Fraser gave that run back on a Kirby Puckett triple in the next inning. Mark Eichhorn ended the threat but the socre would stay 4-4 deep into extra innings. Gregg Minton and Terry Leach each pitched three scoreless innings in relief for the Angels and Twins respectively.
Doug Rader finally blinked and in the top of the twelfth he brought in his closer, Bryan Harvey to pitch the top of the twelfth. He gave a up a run-scoring single to Gary Gaetti and Twins manger Tom Kelly decided to show everyone how HIS closer did the job. Enter Rick Aguilera with a one-run lead in the bottom of the twelfth inning. Devon White flies out. Johnny Ray singles. Wally Joyner grounds out weakly to 3B allowing Johnny Ray to get to 2B safely.
The Twins chose to intentionally walk Chili Davis to get to Dante Bichette. This made a game-ending ground out more likely and since the tying run was already on base and in scoring position, it seems moderately defensible.
Bichette hit an 0-2 pitch deep to Centerfield, over the wall, a come from behind, extra inning, three-run walk off home run. Final Score on a Saturday night in Anaheim: Angels 7, Twins 5.
Dante Bichette was an power bat with a lousy glove and an all or nothing swing that led to many strikeouts. 1990 was his breakout season. He hit .255 with 15 home runs in 109 games for the Angels. Then they traded him a few days before the season started, to Milwaukee for Dave Parker. It isn't that Bichette turned out to be a Hall-of-Famer. He made his mark in Colorado where his monster fly balls translated into home runs better. It is that Dave Parker was in his forties and petered out quickly for the Angels the following year, while Bichette played for another eleven seasons. Again, Bichette was not a dominant player, and his lifetime numbers were certainly aided by the Mile High pre-humidor Colorado barometer. But the trade to the Brewers for Parker was at best a lateral move. That it did not work out for the Angels made it a big step back. With Jim Edmonds and Tim Salmon both much younger and coming on strong, Angels history forgets Bichette's presence as a top prospect in the system and a good power hitter when called up to the majors.
So let's not forget that his fifth career home run was a come from behind, extra inning, three-run walk off home run for the good guys. Thanks, Dante, I want to say you deserved better but you had a fine major league career. Thanks, Dante, WE deserved a better return for you.