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Angels Find No Relief in Loss : Baseball: Failure of bullpen in 2-0 defeat against Seattle stirs memories of failure to retain Harvey last November.

May 27, 1993|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SEATTLE — The Angels keep telling themselves to quit talking about it. It's over, they say. There's nothing they can do to bring him back, or change the course of history.

But, oh, how that fateful decision last November keeps coming back to haunt them.

The Angels' bullpen failed them once again Wednesday in their 2-0 defeat by the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome, and as much as they tried to control their emotions, the thought of Bryan Harvey danced in their heads.

While Harvey is more than 3,000 miles away in Florida, where he has recorded 15 saves for the Marlins, the Angels are left with a bullpen that's as reliable as a six-year-old car battery in the dead of winter.

Angel Manager Buck Rodgers found himself trying to work miracles with his bullpen in the eighth inning, using a trio of relievers, only to watch 31-year-old rookie Rich Amaral and catcher Dave Valle uncork run-scoring singles for the Mariners.

The Angels' front office, which vowed that it could survive the departure of Harvey in the expansion draft, now must ponder what should be done to fortify the team's bullpen. The numbers reveal the ugly story: 5-7 record, 3.87 earned-run average and five blown saves in 18 opportunities.

With the exception of Gene Nelson (0-0, 1.20 ERA), there's not a soul in the bullpen who has looked even encouraging.

John Farrell, who pitched seven shutout innings in his finest performance of the season, could only watch helplessly as his performance was squandered in the eighth.

"I don't think any of us are consciously thinking about Harvey," Angel reliever Steve Frey said. "When the ball is in our hands, we want to do the job. We don't worry about Harvey or anyone else. We're a bullpen by committee.

"But I know when we lose late-inning games, it's going to keep coming up."

Mackey Sasser led off the Mariners' eighth with a single to left off reliever Scott Lewis. Jay Buhner sacrificed pinch-runner Fernando Vina to second and Rodgers brought in Frey. Tino Martinez hit a hard grounder to first baseman J.T. Snow for the second out, moving Vina to third.

With right-handed batter Amaral up next, Rodgers called upon Joe Grahe. Amaral greeted him with a run-scoring single to center and, after stealing second, made it 2-0 by scoring on Valle's single to center.

Mariner Manager Lou Piniella, well aware of the importance of a bullpen stopper, turned to veteran Norm Charlton in the ninth. Game, set and match.

"You've got to have the big guy in the bullpen," Piniella said, "or it can be an awfully long season. You take a look around, and you just don't see teams win without that horse in the pen.

"We got him, and I think Buck is still searching for one."

The loss prevented the Angels from moving into a tie for first place, and considerably tightened the American League West race. There are only three games that separate five teams in the division, with the Angels (23-20) remaining one game behind the Chicago White Sox, and the Mariners (23-24) moving to within three games.

"Let's face it," Piniella said, "this division is up for grabs. The only team that looks like they're even capable of running away and hiding is the Chicago White Sox, but they're not doing it."

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