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Anderson's Role May Be Shrinking : Baseball: Pitcher has rough outing and possible roster moves threaten to alter his job as a starter.

August 27, 1995|JOHN WEYLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — He didn't really think about it before the game, but Brian Anderson might have recognized the combination was a bad omen. The last time he pitched in front of a crowd of more than 60,000 on a night when uniforms were a feature, he also lost.

On the Fourth of July, 1992, in Mile High Stadium, on an evening when the Colorado Rockies' new uniforms were unveiled, Anderson, a member of the U.S. National team, lost to Cuba.

Saturday night, in front of a crowd of 61,082 on Turn Back the Clock Night in Anaheim Stadium, Anderson donned his circa 1961 uniform and found no comfort, even with a halo on his cap.

"I think I'll take this uniform and burn it," Anderson said after losing his fourth consecutive game as the Orioles beat the Angels, 5-2.

There's really no secret to his success--or lack of thereof--this season. The 23-year-old left-hander is going to give up some hits, probably a home run or two. He's not going to strike out more than a handful of batters and he's probably not going to last nine innings.

But for a team with the Angels' offensive prowess, Anderson is going to win some games . . . on the nights that he gets enough run support.

But Saturday night the Angels scored just twice and predictably, two wasn't enough. Anderson--looking even more diminutive and boyish than usual in his new/old uniform--gave up 10 hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings.

"It was one of those nights when I didn't take very good stuff out there," he said. "It was more of a battle-type night. I gave up quite a few hits, but I tried to make the pitches when I had to and for the most part I was able to."

Anderson was pitching backward all night, getting behind in the counts and allowing the leadoff hitter to reach base in each of the first six innings. In the fourth, Oriole catcher Chris Hoiles got all of a low fastball out over the plate and deposited it in the left-field seats. Jeff Manto followed with a double and scored on Jeff Huson's single to give Baltimore a 2-1 lead.

"My job is to keep us close, to find a way to keep us in the game, because who knows when we'll erupt," Anderson said. "You can say that working out of all those early jams takes its toll, but I look at it as gaining momentum and turning away their opportunities. You usually only get so many chances to score."

Clearly, Anderson hasn't pitched well in the last three weeks. But the Angels have scored more than two runs in just one of his four defeats since Aug. 6, so his struggles have only made for more lopsided losses.

Anderson is 6-6 this season. The Angels have scored an average of 2.5 runs in the losses and 8.3 in the victories.

"There's no way I can say anything negative about this offense," he said, smiling. "The way they've scored runs for me this year. But they're not going to put up those kinds of numbers every night and on those nights, I have to suck it up and keep us close."

Baltimore led, 2-1, going into the seventh but Anderson hung a slider to Bobby Bonilla, who clobbered it into the seats in left. He yielded a single to Rafael Palmeiro and then gave way to Mike James.

Anderson's struggles take on added significance these days. Shawn Boskie and Mike Bielecki soon will return from the disabled list and Anderson's spot in the rotation is becoming more tenuous with each start.

His next start will be Thursday in New York. Is there a chance it will be his last for awhile?

"That's not really a question for me," he said. "They're going to do what they're going to do. But there are certain aspects I can control. So Thursday will be an exciting game. I feel good, my velocity is fine. I'll just do what I always try to do, go out there and leave everything I have on the field."

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