Opening Day (April 1, 2013) is 57 days away. We are counting down the 100 Walk Off Home Runs in Angels franchise history. Today we look at #57, a deep drive, coming from behind and headed all the way to Wally World...
July 21, 1989 - A pitching matchup of two of the greatest Angels arms ever took place in Anaheim on this Friday night - almost 35,000 people were on hand to see Mike Witt take the mound against the Detroit Tigers and their starting pitcher Frank Tanana.
Detroit had won it all in 1984 and added Tanana the next season. Thier team had fragments fo those dominant champions: Lou Whittaker, Alan Trammel and Chet Lemon were still around. The Angels great mid-80s teams were represented by a few players still, although their great centerfielder, Gary Pettis, was starting int hat position for the Tigers, having long ago been traded there by the Angels for pitcher Dan Petry. The great Angels teams of the '80s were still connected here with Brian Downing, Dick Schofield, Wally Joyner and of course Mike Witt.
Frank Tanana and Mike Witt are ranked in the top five of many Angels all time pitching categories: Wins, Strikeouts, Innings Pitched, Complete Games and # of Batters Faced. They appear together in the top ten of almost a dozen more categories.
Tanana was traded to Boston before the 1981 season after amassing 102 Wins in eight seasons with the Angels. Witt made his debut in 1981 and would pitch for ten years under the halo and win 109 games.
However... neither pitcher lived up to anything closely resembling his Anaheim peak in this game. Witt allowed a run in the first inning and Tanana couldn't enjoy the lead. he allowed three Angels to score in a 31-pitch bottom of the first that included a ten-pitch AB by Devon White who won the battle with a single to RF. Witt didn't care for the gifts, though and allowed another run in the top of the second inning to make it 3-2 Angels after one and a half innings.
In the top of the fourth with his lead now 4-2, Witt had two on and two out when he gave up three straight doubles to lose the lead. At 6-4 Tigers, manager Doug Rader came and got Witt from the mound. Rich Monteleone got out of it and he matched two scoreless innings beyond that with Tanana as well as a scoreless top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Angels fought back and scored two runs on back to back singles from Dick Schofield and Claudell Washington plating Brian Downing and Lance Parrish respectively. The 6-6 tie was tenuous enough to inspire Doug Rader's call to the bullpen to be his best available arm: Closer Bryan Harvey took the mound despite the absence of a Save opportunity.
It did not pay off. Lou Whittaker hit a lead off home run and the Angels were down 7-6 with nobody out in the top of the ninth. Harvey got out of the inning with just one other baserunner, but the damage was done.
Dave Beard had quelled the two-run Angels rally in the eighth and Sparky Anderson let him go back onto the mound for the Win in the bottom of the ninth. Devon White led off the inning with his third hit of the night and it didn't take ten pitches like earlier to get it accomplished. Wally Joyner had a full count when he swung at an offering from Beard and mashed it down the RF line and into the seats for a come from behind, walk off home run.
Final Score: California Angels 8, Detroit Tigers 7.