An early season battle between former AL West rivals, the Kansas City Royals and California Angels, took place in Anaheim on May 8, 1996.
The starting pitcher for the Angels was Chuck Finley, who had been a very good left-handed arm for California for several years with his breakout year coming in 1986. He never was a dominant power pitcher but still registered some nice years and 1996 would be the first of three seasons he would eclipse the 200 K mark.
Finley pitched 7.1 innings of shutout ball and sat down nine Royals before turning it over to the bullpen. Troy Percival was in his first season as the closer for the Angels. For whatever reason, he pitched in the eighth inning of this game to set up the save for Lee Smith, who promptly blew the lead. This became the catalyst for five extra frames of free baseball.
Mike James proceeded to throw three innings, giving up no runs and striking out another three, setting the stage for Mark Eichhorn. Eichhorn was dealing that evening as five of the six outs he recorded were punch outs. His only issue was giving up two runs in between which allowed the Royals to win the game 3-1.
Some of the harder-hit Kansas City victims included Craig Paquette (4 K’s in 6 AB’s), Michael Tucker (3 in 6) and a long list of players who were rung up twice including Mike MacFarlane, Johnny Damon, Bip Roberts and David Howard. Howard would atone himself by driving in the winning runs with double in the 14th.
The final tally for the Halo’s pitchers was 18 K’s over 14 innings. A nice all-around performance for the pitchers involved despite the loss.