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Hentgen Was Ripe to Be Beaten

May 26, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

The Angels were kicking themselves after Sunday's 4-3 loss to Toronto, but not because of the fluke play that led to the Blue Jays' winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning.

They caught Toronto right-hander Pat Hentgen on a day the 1996 Cy Young Award winner could have been beaten, but they failed to capitalize, and that was almost as frustrating as the 11th-inning fly ball that dropped between outfielders Tim Salmon and Jim Edmonds for a triple.

Hentgen walked a season-high six, and of his 122 pitches, only 63 were strikes. But after Luis Alicea's second-inning, two-run triple, which snapped Hentgen's string of 40 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run, the Angels failed to score against Hentgen.

Alicea was on third with one out after his triple, but Gary DiSarcina grounded out to third, Alicea holding, and Tony Phillips grounded out to end the inning.

Edmonds led off the sixth with a double, but after Jim Leyritz struck out on an inside Hentgen fastball that froze the Angel catcher, Edmonds was thrown out in a rundown between second and third after making the mistake of trying to advance on Salmon's grounder to the shortstop hole.

"Hentgen didn't have his A-1 stuff today, but that shows you how good he is," Phillips said. "He made good pitches when he had to."

Angel starter Jason Dickson, in his first big league start in his native Canada, was hardly in peak form either, but the rookie was able to go 6 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, including Carlos Delgado's second-inning homer, and striking out three.

Angel reliever Mike Holtz got a key out in the seventh, and Pep Harris retired the seven batters he faced in the seventh through ninth innings.

"The bullpen did a real good job," Manager Terry Collins said. "But mistakes can be costly, and we made a few that they capitalized on. We just have to get over it and start again [today]."


The Angels had runners on first and third with two out in the 10th inning Sunday, and Eddie Murray's one-hop smash knocked second baseman Carlos Delgado to his knees, but Delgado was able to make the play. . . . Edmonds extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double and two singles. . . . All 24 hits Hentgen had given up over the course of four games were singles until Alicea snapped the string with his second-inning triple. . . . Toronto catcher Benito Santiago threw out Alicea at second from his knees on a fifth-inning stolen-base attempt. . . . The Angels are now 4-3 in extra-inning games.


* Opponent--Detroit Tigers, two games.

* Site--Tiger Stadium, Detroit.

* Today--10 a.m. PDT.

* TV--Channel 9 today.

* Radio--KTZN (710).

* Records--Angels 25-21, Tigers 21-26

* Record vs. Tigers--2-1.


* Update--If you compare records from 1996, the Tigers are the most improved team in baseball, their 21-26 start a nine-game improvement over their 12-35 start last season. Starting pitching has been the key--the Detroit starters' 3.87 earned-run average ranks fifth in the American League, and they have four shutouts. So has first baseman Tony Clark, who ranks third in the league in home runs (17) and RBIs (49). The Tigers also lead the league with 58 stolen bases, including 25 by Brian Hunter, who still has not been thrown out by a catcher. Hunter has been caught stealing four times, but all on pick-off plays. Today marks the Angels' third consecutive day game in the Eastern time zone, always a difficult task for West Coast teams trying to adjust to the three-hour time difference. Third baseman Dave Hollins, who was given Sunday off, will return to the lineup today, as Finley looks to win his third consecutive start.

* Tuesday, 4 p.m.--Matt Perisho (major league debut) vs. Justin Thompson (4-3, 3.47).

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