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Angels' Lights Stay Out : Baseball: Not even Anderson can escape the darkness as the Red Sox hand them their fifth consecutive loss, 10-1.

May 02, 1994|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Angels' moment of bliss came in the seventh inning Sunday, when precisely at 7:07 p.m., all four scoreboards at Anaheim Stadium went black.

There was no score. No reminders of the game's proceedings.

But their elation lasted only a few precious minutes, and the only malfunction the rest of the night was by the Angels, who lost once again, 10-1, to the Boston Red Sox.

"This is pretty embarrassing," said Angel designated hitter Chili Davis, "we're stinking up the place right now. I don't blame people for being disgusted with what's going on.

"I'm disgusted by it. We're all disgusted by it.

"It takes the fun out of what I'm doing (batting .362), that's for damn sure. I'm going home like everyone else and wondering what the hell is going on around here."

The Angels (9-17), losers of five consecutive games and nine of their last 10, are having difficulty keeping games close. They have lost three games by nine or more runs in the last week.

"It's been like something out of the 'Twilight Zone,' " Angel left fielder Bo Jackson said.

Certainly, there has been no stranger occurrence than the moment in the eighth inning. Angel reliever Joe Grahe had struck out Rich Rowland, and while waiting for the ball to be thrown around the horn, felt an object strike his neck.

It was a rubberized baseball from a Little League. Someone in the crowd of 34,810 threw a ball from the upper deck that struck Grahe, sending him to his knees.

"I guess it could have been worse," Grahe said, "at least I didn't get shot."

Grahe, who was more startled than hurt, continued to pitch and was the only one of the four Angel pitchers who was unscored upon. He also was the only one who could make light of the potentially dangerous incident.

"That was such a good pitch," Grahe said, "maybe they should have brought that kid down and let him pitch. He's got a pretty good arm.

"That ball had about 35 Little League autographs on it, so finding a suspect may be tough. Maybe I'll find out whose parents make the most money so I can sue them.

"When you think about it, that was kind of a microcosm of the way things have been going for the whole team."

The Angels never have gotten off to a worse start in their 34-year franchise history, equaling the ineptitude of their 1961 and 1969 teams. It's also the first time they have lost 10 of their first 12 home games.

While each day they seem to be setting club records for their feeble play, nothing explains their misery more than this fact:

They have yet to win a game since April 6 when someone other than Mark Leiter or Brian Anderson has been the starting pitcher.

And unfortunately for the Angels, Anderson (3-1) was pitching Sunday. The Red Sox pelted him for eight hits and eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

"We're not getting the pitching," Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said, "and we're obviously not getting the hitting. You can talk all you want about not getting hits against (Ben) McDonald, (Sid) Fernandez and (Roger) Clemens, but that was Joe Hesketh out there, and he shut us down."

Rodgers, who managed Hesketh for six years while he was in the Montreal Expo organization, watched in disbelief while Hesketh shut down the Angels for seven innings.

"We're not hiding any of our flaws, that's for sure," Rodgers said. "The flaws are right there for everyone to see."

It has been bad enough that the Angels have a 6.80 earned-run average this home stand--giving up 61 hits in 45 innings--but they are batting .195 with only seven extra-base hits. Little wonder they have been outscored, 37-9, in the last five games.

"I don't think any of us can believe this is happening," Angel third baseman Damion Easley said. "It's like we get behind, and we just start to panic.

"Everyone's trying to be the hero, and nothing's happening."

Perhaps the most awkward aspect is that the Angels feel as if they are the visiting team in their own ballpark. They have more fans rooting for the opposition these days than their own team.

"It's embarrassing when you have people rooting more for the other team," Davis said, "and then get balls thrown at us. We need to get our fans back. I wish they'd give the visiting team seats in the upper deck so we didn't have to listen to them.

"This is our ballpark.

"But to tell you the truth, it sure doesn't feel like it these days."

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