NEW YORK — Only four times in the last 16 games have the Angels received more than six innings from a starting pitcher. Tell that to Ron Romanick and he might reply that going six innings would be like reaching the promised land.
Romanick's once-promising season continued to deteriorate Saturday when the New York Yankees beat the Angels for the eighth time in 11 games, 10-4. The only consolation for the Angels was that second-place Kansas City lost to Texas, 6-4, and remained 2 1/2 games behind them in the AL West.
The Angels came back from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits to forge a 4-4 tie in the fifth, after which Manager Gene Mauch refused to let the struggling Romanick try to protect it.
He called on Doug Corbett, whose three-inning stint Tuesday at Edmonton was his only work since July 22, when he last pitched for the Angels. Corbett had arthroscopic surgery Aug. 5 for the removal of scar tissue in his left knee.
The 4-4 tie disintegrated when Corbett yielded a three-run homer to third baseman Mike Pagliarulo in the fifth and a three-run homer to catcher Ron Hassey in the sixth.
"I expected Corbett to be good," Mauch said later. "The way he pitched the other day in Edmonton, he threw strikes and got people out. I thought he could throw strikes and get people out for a couple innings today.
"It was a damn shame to battle back and tie it, then have it get away."
Mauch's fifth-inning choices were limited. Stewart Cliburn was sidelined by a muscle pull in the left side of his rib cage. Donnie Moore had pitched 3 innings Friday night after Cliburn suffered the injury.
Al Holland was the late man Saturday, leaving Mauch with a choice between Corbett and Luis Sanchez, a walking nuclear reactor. Or Mauch could have let Romanick continue.
"He had been scored on in three of the four innings," Mauch said, "and there had been some awfully hard-hit outs in the fourth. A couple of the infielders had bone bruises on their hands."
Rickey Henderson had lined to shortstop Dick Schofield, and Ken Griffey had lined to second baseman Bobby Grich in that fourth inning, which opened with Bobby Meacham hitting his first home run, a pop fly that sailed 315 feet into the right-field corner, hitting the top of the fence, then bouncing into the seats.
A Griffey double and a Hassey single had produced a first-inning run off Romanick, the eighth time in their last 11 games that the Angels have had a first-inning deficit. Singles by Willie Randolph, Meacham and Don Mattingly led to two more runs in the second.
Winless in August, Romanick has made five starts since the strike. He was then 13-4. He is now 13-6, having allowed 36 hits and 21 earned runs in the 19 innings of the five starts, an earned-run average of 9.90. He went 6 innings in one of those starts and four innings or less in the other four.
Romanick will start as scheduled Friday at Baltimore. Said Mauch: "He's struggling, but I'm not going to give up on him. He'll win some more games for us."
Mauch had delayed Romanick's latest start by two days, thinking the added rest would be the same elixir for his arm as it was late last season.
Romanick seemed to disagree. Eight days between starts, he suggested, are too many.
"I need to pitch," he said. "Just give me the ball every fifth day and let me pitch.
"I'm frustrated, naturally, but not confused. I don't have to show anybody what I can do. I've shown what I can do the last two years. I just have to keep getting the ball and going at 'em."
Romanick said that physically and mechanically, he felt 100% Saturday, but was falling behind in the count.
"I gave up some hits," he said, "but none of them were hit that hard. For me to be effective, I have to get past the first couple innings. For me to win, I have to hang around for six or seven. I'm not getting that chance for a combination of reasons. I haven't been effective enough, and we're trying to win any way we can."
The Angels' theory is that Romanick's work as a player representative before and during the strike disrupted his concentration, leading to mechanical problems and a loss of confidence. He will remain in the rotation because Mauch is without options, just as he was without options in the fifth inning Saturday.
The homers by Pagliarulo (his 17th) and Hassey (No. 10) were both hit on a low line into the seats in right. Corbett said that Pagliarulo hit a good sinker, Hassey a bad one. Mauch reflected on the three Yankee homers and said: "They put some Stadium strokes on us."
Said Corbett: "I felt good going out there, but I had a real bad day. I'm disappointed, but it's one day, that's all it is. The thing that upsets me is that I didn't attack the little guys like I did the big guys. Pagliarulo and Hassey got me, while Winfield and Mattingly and Baylor didn't."
The Angels were limited to seven hits. A Reggie Jackson double following singles by Ruppert Jones and Rod Carew helped lead to two runs in the fourth.