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Curtis Manages to Burn Bright, Even in Snow's Shadow

April 24, 1993|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — The Angels rolled out their fast-break offense again Friday night, with Chad Curtis playing the role of the point guard.

It's only April, so you'd better hold off on those World Series plans, but for the fourth consecutive night, the first-place Angels seemed to be without a weakness.

They pounded out eight hits against the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox. (The daily J.T. Snow update: no home runs, but two singles in four at-bats and one run scored).

The Angels' defense was sharp again.

Their starting pitching has finally come around, with Mark Langston following Chuck Finley's two-hit shutout of Cleveland on Thursday with a three-hit, 4-1 victory over the Red Sox on Friday.

And with Curtis tearing around the bases at breakneck speed, there wasn't much chance the Red Sox could slow the Angels in front of 37,463 at Anaheim Stadium. Not that many in the season's largest home crowd took notice.

You see, Curtis is only one of 24 Angels lost in the shuffle of Snow's brilliant start. Certainly it hasn't been for lack of effort or production, however.

Check the box score. What you won't find there are these vital statistics:

Curtis' sixth-inning single off Red Sox starter Frank Viola extended his hitting streak to 10 games. When he stole second base moments later and added another steal in the seventh, he increased his total to a major league-leading 12. And when he scored the Angels' third run of the game in the sixth, it marked the 10th consecutive game in which he has scored.

And while Snow attracted his usual mob of reporters after the game, Curtis sat alone with a plate of pasta.

"At one point in the beginning of (last) September, I was stealing a lot of bases and scoring a lot of runs, but not to this extent," Curtis said. "Either me or Luis Polonia, it's our job to get things started for Chili (Davis) and J.T. One of us has got to be scoring the runs."

Aggressive baserunning has always been part of Manager Buck Rodgers' master plan, and it's paying off in victories.

"You can't just go from base to base," he said. "I'd rather have us be thrown out than wait. You've got to have an aggressive third-base coach in order to have an aggressive team and Ken Macha is aggressive."

In the sixth, Macha had Polonia and Curtis sprinting for home on Tim Salmon's single to relatively shallow left field. Polonia, who was on third base, figured to score easily, but with Curtis starting from second, another run wasn't a cinch.

Macha didn't hesitate in sending Curtis and Curtis didn't break stride, sliding under catcher Tony Pena's tag at the plate.

"I got a good jump off the bat," Curtis said. "I try not to anticipate either being waved in or being stopped because if I hesitate, then I might get stopped."

If there's a rationale behind the Angels' aggressiveness, it's this:

"The more times you make the other team throw the ball around, the better chance you have of (making a big play)," Curtis said. "You put the pressure on the other team."

He gave an example.

"As an outfielder, I know when Devon White is at the plate, I've got to get the ball back in quickly," he said. "I think we're starting to get that reputation."

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