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The Kids Are All Right as Angels Beat Brewers

April 13, 1993|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MILWAUKEE — Angel Manager Buck Rodgers had every reason to believe his team would be cranky, irritable and even sullen when they walked into the visiting clubhouse here Monday morning.

They had had little sleep because of their late-arriving flight Sunday night. There were signs all over the clubhouse warning them that the water was contaminated. The temperature was close to freezing. Then, of all things, they learned that Rodgers had scheduled a two-hour workout for their day off.

"I think you would have heard a whole lot of complaints from a veteran team, and the mood might have been reflected on the field," said Chili Davis, 33-year-old designated hitter. "But this team is different. This team, might be the most unique team I've been on."

Instead of moping, the Angels went out and beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 12-5, ruining their home opener before a sellout crowd of 53,621 at Milwaukee County Stadium.

"I know it sounds kind of funny, but it's almost like we've got this attitude that we're going to come out and kick some butt," rookie first baseman J.T. Snow said. "It's a feeling like I had in the minors. It's not being cocky, it's just a confident feeling.

"I think some of the guys in here are starting to believe in us now. People kept talking about how we're a young team, wondering how we'd react, and how we'd adjust to different pitchers.

"Well, we don't worry about it. We just go out there, have fun, and let it happen.

"It's almost like we don't know any differently."

The Angels, who had not won in Milwaukee since Sept. 2, 1991, started the afternoon with Davis' two-run homer during the first inning, then ended it with a three-run shot by Damion Easley during the ninth.

The fans, who laughed along with Rodgers when he was introduced in pregame ceremonies and stranded alone at home plate waving to the crowd for about 60 seconds before the rest of the team emerged, were booing the Brewers by the game's finish. Sitting in 45-degree weather for nearly 3 1/2 hours, and watching the Angels playing with reckless abandon, apparently was too much for them to take.

The Angels--the youngest team in the American League West and a 7-6 winner over Detroit Sunday--produced 19 runs and 25 hits in less than 24 hours. This is a team that had gone 78 games without scoring in double figures.

"This team is capable of doing this almost every game," Davis said. "You don't find teams with this kind of speed in the lineup. We're putting a lot of pressure on teams, and you can see that."

The Angels (4-2), who are two games above .500 for the first time since May 17, 1992, produced only two extra-base hits--the homers by Davis and Easley--but had 20 baserunners. Every player in the Angel lineup scored at least one run. And everyone got at least one hit, with the exception of right fielder Tim Salmon, who walked three times.

No one proved to be a bigger nuisance than center fielder Chad Curtis. He scored two runs, had two hits, drove in two runs, and stole a career-high three bases.

Curtis, who batted .083 through the first four games, suddenly has found his stroke. He has six hits in his last nine at-bats, has scored three runs and driven in four.

Brewer starter Cal Eldred, who had an .053 earned-run average against the Angels, was rocked for seven hits and six runs in 3 1/3 innings, the shortest outing of his career.

Angel starter Chuck Finley, who was struggling to survive five innings himself, simply sat back and watched in awe.

"I felt like someone pulled a couple of my spark plug wires off," said Finley, who yielded nine hits, four walks and five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. "It was just one of those days where you battle and battle just to hang in there."

Finley lasted long enough for Julio Valera to come out of the bullpen and pitch 3 2/3 innings for his first save.

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