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Angels Find the Weakness : Baseball: They batter Cleveland's pitching in 7-2 victory behind Sanderson. Salmon, Snow hit home runs.

April 21, 1993|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

By now it's become obvious that the Cleveland Indians are half a team.

They say their psychological wounds from the spring training boating accident that killed relief pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin and injured starter Bob Ojeda are mending. But that's only part of the recovery.

An hour before Tuesday's game against the Angels at Anaheim Stadium, Cleveland Manager Mike Hargrove watched batting practice and said the club had turned an emotional corner.

"We've put it behind us," Hargrove said. "It's not something we ever want to go through again, but we've put it aside and gone on. Slowly but surely we're remembering more of the good things and fewer of the bad things."

But the absence of three quality pitchers is another story, and the Indians' thin pitching led directly to the Angels' 7-2 victory before 17,271 Tuesday night.

Starter Jose Mesa pitched well enough over 6 2/3 innings, but when he ran out of gas so did the Indians. And a tight game, matching Mesa and Angel starter Scott Sanderson (2-0), turned into a runaway. Tim Salmon's second home run of the season, a towering shot over the left-field wall in the sixth inning, gave the Angels the lead for good, 2-1.

An inning later, the roof caved in on the Indians.

Gary DiSarcina scored on Luis Polonia's double to right-center field, and Chad Curtis reached on an error by Carlos Baerga. Hargrove replaced Mesa with Kevin Wickander, and J.T. Snow hammered a 1-and-2 pitch over the left-field fence for a 6-1 lead.

Without Crews, Olin and Ojeda, who has been put on the disabled list and is not expected to return until at least July, Tuesday was a typically difficult night for the Indian staff. They came into the game with a 5.80 earned-run average, second poorest in the American League behind Seattle, and Mesa, Wickander and Tom Kramer offered little to trim the fat.

The totals: Mesa gave up five runs (four earned) and 10 hits; Wickander gave up Snow's three-run homer in two-thirds of an inning and Kramer gave up one hit and one run in an inning of mop-up work.

The Indians, who went into the game batting a league-leading .313, found themselves in more trouble than usual when they couldn't break through against Sanderson.

They had eight hits, but couldn't overtake the Angels.

"Cleveland's got a good-hitting ballclub," Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said. "Their hitting is not an accident. They can thump it. (But) they need to develop some pitching. . . .

"I don't know much about their bullpen. But they've got a lot of new names. Just because you don't know who they are doesn't mean they're no good."

By contrast, Sanderson was strong throughout.

"I'm not the type of pitcher who is going to strike everyone out," he said. "As a pitcher you need to compensate for (Cleveland's) aggressiveness and ability and come up with a game plan to get them off stride."

Before leaving after the seventh inning, Sanderson scattered six hits and gave up one run, with four strikeouts.

Cleveland took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Carlos Martinez singled home Albert Belle, whose leadoff double extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 consecutive games.

Over the next five innings, Sanderson stayed out of trouble, and the Angels roared past and into a 6-1 lead by the time he yielded to reliever Steve Frey.

It wasn't the most overpowering performance, but Sanderson could be content in keeping the Indians relatively quiet.

"Obviously, they're a great hitting team," Sanderson said. "You want to try to keep their speed demons off the bases and keep the ball in the ballpark."

That worked, and Salmon and Snow delivered crushing blows.

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