55 Days Until Opening Day

Norm Hall

Counting Down to Opening Day, We Are Counting Down The 100 Walkoff Homers in Angels History. This is the story of double nickels.

Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 55 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. Devon White hit the 55th walk off home run in team history an inning after a game-tying grand slam by Mark Ryal.

September 10, 1987 - Don Sutton was the starting pitcher for the Angels this Thursday night late in a lost season for the team. Bobby Valentine's Texas Rangers were ten games under .500 and the Angels were not much better.

Brian Downing broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning to put the pitcher of record and future Hall of Famer in line for the win. Greg Minton pitched a 1-2-3 top of the eighth and Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams set the Angels down in order in the bottom of the inning.

In the top of the ninth, Minton gave up two singles. Gene Mauch pulled him for DeWayne Buice (as in ICE). Buice threw out the lead runner on a bunt attempt and with runners still on 1B and 2B struck out Oddibe McDowell.

Wow, this is nice, two on, but two out, what is the worst that could happen? How about a run-scoring single, a walk to load the bases, another run-scoring single, a two-run double and and a run -scoring single.

Is that worst enough for you? From his perch in RF, Devon White threw Ruben Sierra out at 2B trying to stretch that dingle into a double, to end the inning.

The Angels had gone from being up 3-2 to being down 7-3. It was mid-September and the teams were out of contention. You can imagine a number of people walked to their car in disgust. Maybe some of them turned to the radio and heard Al Conin and Ken Brett call what happened in the bottom of the ninth inning. Devon White singled on a dribbler to the mound and advanced to 2B on the throw. Mitch Williams got the error and then walked the next batter.

Dale Mohoric came into the game and got Bob Boone to ground out. Jim Eppard, pinch hitting for Dick Schofield, hit an infield single that held the runners. The bases were now loaded. Mark Ryal was called to pinch hit for Gary Pettis. Ryal hit a game-tying Grand Slam.

Steve Howe would eventually be called in to pitch for Texas and clean up that inning and the game went into extras. Buice retired the side in the top of the tenth and Howe got George Hendrick to foul out to start the bottom of the tenth.

Devon White, though, sent Howe to the showers with an extra-inning tie-breaking walk off home run. Final Score: Angels 8, Rangers 7, nine runs scored in the ninth inning.

Although Devo hit the walk-off, the mystery here is: who was Mark Ryal. He had been released by the Roylas and White Sox and was in his second season as a an Angels sixth outfielder. He hit seven home runs combined for the Halos in 86 and 87 and then signed with the Cardinals, never made it out of the minors there, played a few games for Pittsburgh over two seasons and was last spotted in Japan. His greatest moment was not a walk-off but if Devon White's walk off was the frosting on the cake, Mark Ryal baked one heck of a great cake.

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