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Balboni's Homer Puts Royals Out of Angels' Reach

June 16, 1986|JOHN WEYLER | Times Staff Writer

Gene Mauch was not in the mood for pleasant chatter. When the media arrived in the clubhouse after Sunday's game, the Angel manager was in his office, having a closed-door meeting with himself.

When he opened his office to the press, his first comment was, "We've got to make five runs stand up more often."

Trouble was, Kansas City already had a 6-0 lead Sunday before the Angels scratched out five runs and fell one short in a 6-5 loss before 53,659 at Anaheim Stadium.

Ron Romanick, who has not won a game in more than a month, was the latest victim of Kansas City's big-and-small hit-man team of Steve Balboni and Buddy Biancalana.

The 5-11, 160-pound Biancalana hit his second home run in as many days--the fifth of his career--in the fifth inning. And the 6-3, 225-pound Balboni gave the Royals the winning margin with a three-run shot in the sixth, his 13th of the year and third in the last three games against the Angels.

No Royal had to sprint for home all day, in fact. Frank White slugged a two-run homer to dead center in the fourth and Kansas City players trotted across the plate the rest of the afternoon.

Mauch, who knows as well as anyone that day games in Anaheim can turn a banjo-hitter into a Roger Maris for a day, said that Biancalana's line drive to right and Balboni's high fly down the left-field line were "both home runs."

But he quickly added that Balboni may never have gotten the chance to break the game open if it weren't for the Big-A day-game syndrome.

Romanick retired Rudy Law and George Brett on lazy fly balls to open the sixth, but Jorge Orta's pop-up to shallow left-center dropped untouched between a trio of Angels. White followed with a single to right and then Balboni muscled a 1-2 fastball into the box seats near the foul pole.

"I don't know if the power of suggestion set in or what, but during day games here, sometimes the tendency of the outfielders is to go like that," Mauch said, taking a big step backwards. "I don't know . . . but that (Orta's) ball stayed up there a long, long time.

"Romanick's game is a little out of sync right now. I know he didn't want to throw a strike to Balboni. He wanted that pitch five or six or eight or 10 inches inside."

Romanick (3-5) can't explain his recent problems, although the fact that the opponents have scored first in his last eight outings may be a clue. The last time he beat Kansas City was more than a year ago. He pitched a shutout and his teammates pitched in with one run.

"For some reason, I'm not making the right pitches on certain counts and I'm getting burned on them," Romanick said. "A guy (Orta) hits your pitch and you don't get anything out of it. The next guy singles to right.

"Then I guess I threw one too many inside fastballs to Balboni. He didn't get all of it, but he doesn't have to, he's so strong."

While the Royals were hitting the ball out of the park in the middle innings, the Angels were having trouble finding a spot where there wasn't a Kansas City player waiting. Starter Charlie Leibrandt allowed just two singles in the first five innings and retired 11 in a row between a walk to Wally Joyner in the second and Rick Burleson's one-out single in the sixth.

Dick Schofield followed Burleson's hit with another single and, after Brian Downing flied out, Doug DeCinces hit a sharp grounder to the hole. Biancalana made a diving stop, but threw wildly to first and the Angels trailed, 6-2.

Leibrandt (7-4) retired the side in order in the seventh and got the first two hitters in the eighth before Schofield blooped a single to center and Downing lined a single to right. That's when Manager Dick Howser decided to go to his new bullpen ace, Steve Farr.

Farr's first six pitches were balls. He walked DeCinces to load the bases and then walked pinch-hitter Reggie Jackson to force in a run. So Howser went to his old bullpen ace, 33-year-old Dan Quisenberry.

"Farr's been doing the job most of the year and if he would have thrown some strikes today, he probably would have had the save," Howser said.

Quisenberry didn't bring back any old memories right away, though. Bobby Grich lined a two-run double to left-center that might have cleared the bases and tied the game, but Law made a fine play to keep the ball from going to the wall and Jackson had to hold up at third.

The submarining right-hander, who has led the league in saves the last four years, showed some of his old stuff, though. He walked Ruppert Jones intentionally and then got Bob Boone to throw his bat at a pitch and pop up to left.

And he put down the Angels in order in the ninth, striking out Gary Pettis and Schofield in the process.

"I was glad to be coming into the game because I've been mostly a military observer this year," Quisenberry said.

The Angels haven't needed a military observer too often lately. Their artillery has been misfiring and they haven't done much to quiet their opponents guns . . . big or little.

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