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1986 Season

Bittersweet would be the best way to describe the Angels' 1986 season, one of the best in franchise history, but so agonizingly close to the ultimate goal of a World Series appearance.

The season started full of promise, as manager Gene Mauch's club had led the A.L. West for most of the 1985 season, only to fall to the Kansas City Royals down the stretch. But Mauch had all of his big names back, as well as the new kid who inspired "Wally World," Wally Joyner.

Bobby Grich got the Halos off to a flying start, hitting the first pitch of the season over the fence for a home run. The Angels had a fighting spirit, particularly at Anaheim Stadium, where they excited fans with 25 come-from-behind victories.

None was more dramatic than the night of August 29, when the Detroit Tigers took a 12-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. But the Angels rallied with eight runs, capped by Dicks Schofield's game-winning grand slam.

Joyner had the task of replacing future Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew, and responded with 22 homers, 100 RBI and a .290 batting average. Grich, Bob Boone, Doug DeCinces, Brian Downing and Reggie Jackson all made significant contributions as well, but it was the quality and depth of the pitching staff that led the Angels to their third A.L. West championship in eight years.

Mike Witt led the staff with 18 wins, Kirk McCaskill had 17 and Don Sutton 15. Even John Candelaria fought off an elbow injury to finish with 10 wins. Donnie Moore anchored the bullpen with 21 saves and a 2.97 ERA.

The Angels took the momentum of the season into the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox, and took a 3-1 series lead. In Game 5, Bobby Grich's two-run homer in the sixth inning gave the Angels a 3-2 lead. They increased the lead to 5-2 entering the ninth with Witt still on the mound.

The Red Sox, sparked by Dave Henderson's home run, rallied to take a 6-5 lead. But the Angels, like they had done at home all season, rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. They lost in 11 innings, then lost Games 6 and 7 in Boston. "For the most part, it was a very positive season," said then-Angels GM Mike Port. "We had a good club with some fellows Angels fans will never forget - the Bob Boones, the Doug DeCinces, the Reggie Jacksons and so many who made a contribution that year."

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