MILWAUKEE — Jim Abbott has experienced failure so rarely in his 22 years that he could not describe the emptiness he felt after a 13-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday night.
"To go out and even when you want to, you can't throw strikes, it's one of the worst feelings in the world," the Angel left-hander said. "It's a lonely feeling."
Abbott's puzzling lack of control resulted in the shortest outing of his one-plus major league seasons. His 1 1/3-inning stint was long enough for him to give up four walks and eight runs (seven earned) to the Brewers as the Angels fell 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Oakland Athletics in the American League West.
The Brewers got 10 walks off Abbott (1-3), Mark Clear and Scott Bailes, pushing to 141 the number of walks given up by the Angels, third-highest in the league. The walks were an invitation to disaster that the Brewers gladly accepted. They scored four runs in the first inning and six in the second, sending 18 batters to the plate and giving starter Ted Higuera (4-1) room to breathe and then some.
"If you don't throw strikes, you get in trouble," said Abbott, who has given up 20 walks and 25 earned runs in 35 2/3 innings. "The Brewers are a good hitting team, and they showed that tonight. You give them an extra out and they're going to drive the ball.
"I don't think I'm overthrowing. I'm just trying to throw a little too much to spots. That's a tendency I have. Throwing strikes, at times, can be the easiest thing in the world. At times it can be the hardest. Tonight, it was the hardest."
Catching Abbott's pitches proved a difficult task for Lance Parrish, who was charged with two passed balls in the first inning that allowed Milwaukee's first two runs to score. Paul Molitor and Gary Sheffield had reached on a single and a double, respectively, but both were erased on fielder's choice grounders by Robin Yount and Rob Deer. With Greg Brock at the plate and runners on first and third, Parrish couldn't get his glove on an outside pitch and had to give chase. Yount scored on the play and Deer took second. Parrish's throw to second went astray, allowing Deer to take third.
Brock walked, which worried Angel pitching coach Marcel Lachemann. "Letting him get away, that was the key guy," Lachemann said. "Everything fell out of whack after that."
Glenn Braggs also walked, and Abbott's first pitch to Greg Vaughn eluded Parrish, scoring Deer. Brock and Braggs scored on Vaughn's single to center.
The second inning was more of the same. The Brewers needed only three hits to score six times. Abbott was relieved by Clear after Deer's double to left, the second time in three starts that Abbott was yanked early. He lasted only three innings May 6 against the Yankees in a 4-3 loss and has two losses and one no-decision in his last three outings. His ERA ballooned to 6.31.
"I do know, being a former infielder, that it is extremely difficult to play defense in those situations," Angel Manager Doug Rader said of the abundance of walks.
In losing, the Angels fell 10 1/2 games behind Oakland and matched the highest run total they have allowed this season.
The Angels made three errors in the sixth, two by Mark McLemore and one by Kent Anderson, who had been shifted to third. . . . The Angels scored three of their five runs on home runs. In the seventh inning, Brian Downing's two-run home run was followed by Rick Schu's first home run as an Angel. . . . Wally Joyner played despite having a bruised right shin after being hit by a pitch Tuesday, but he left the game in the bottom of the fourth. Anderson played despite a strained right shoulder. Donnie Hill, who has a strained lower back, did not play and is listed as day to day. X-rays of his back were negative.