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Struggling Witt Running Out of Patience : Instant Results Needed to Offset Four Straight Losses and a 3-7 Record

June 16, 1989|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT — The Angels haven't won a game in more than a week.

Patience, Manager Doug Rader keeps saying.

The Angel offense hasn't hit a home run since June 6.

Patience, the Angel offense keeps saying.

Mike Witt hasn't won a decision in more than a month and has one victory to his name since April 19.

Patience?

Witt admits that his own supply is all but depleted these days, with his record at 3-7 after the first 10 weeks of the 1989 season.

"I'm not out there looking for progress," Witt said after his fourth consecutive defeat, a 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers Monday night. "I'm looking for results. That may be the biggest fault of mine. I look for instant results."

And he doesn't mean these types of results:

--In his last nine starts, Witt is 1-5 with three no decisions. In those games, the Angels are 3-6.

--Since his last victory--a 6-1 decision over the New York Yankees May 13--Witt is 0-4 with a 7.14 earned-run average.

--With opponents hitting four home runs in his last two starts, Witt leads all major league pitchers in home runs allowed with 16.

Witt's struggles have reached the point where each start is accompanied by a progress report. A bad start could mean a temporary transfer to the bullpen. A not-so-bad start is combed and dissected for any possible shreds of light.

In Monday's loss to the Rangers, Witt lasted six innings, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks. He walked two batters in the first inning, surrendered three runs in the third and served up home run No. 16 to Julio Franco in the sixth.

This, the Angels considered good news.

"He made progress," Rader maintained. "His velocity was much better than last time, his control was much better. Overall, I thought he did very well."

So Witt will get another start Sunday against the Detroit Tigers. He will again test the forkball he recently added to a repertoire suddenly left wanting, now that his once-vaunted curveball is no longer reliable and his fastball seems to fluctuate with the weather.

"I'm trying everything," Witt said. "I think I found something (Monday night). It obviously wasn't consistently corrected, but I think I corrected some things."

For instance?

"I threw some bad (pitches) in the first inning to walk a couple guys," Witt said. "But I didn't back down, I stayed competitive and I think I made some better pitches later on. That's a good thought process. . . .

"Now what I want to do is take what I did and build on it."

Witt, despite his five consecutive seasons as the Angels' winningest pitcher, acknowledges the urgency of his predicament. The Angels are beginning to falter in their race with Oakland in the American League West. Suddenly, they, too, need instant results from Witt.

"To me, every start is important," Witt said. "But as you get deeper and deeper in the hole, they become more important. When you start to look at the numbers, each start you make gets more important."

To keep from running out of starts, Witt could use a winning one Sunday.

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