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Angels Pick Bad Time to Malfunction

Baseball: Collins doesn't use injuries as excuse for a 9-2 loss to San Diego.

August 29, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — It's one thing when Randy Johnson or Mike Mussina shuts you down or a potent Boston Red Sox lineup blows you out, but to lose the way the Angels did Thursday, to a team that had just been swept in a four-game series by the lowly Philadelphia Phillies, that's an entirely different matter.

Still reeling from season-ending injuries to ace Chuck Finley and catcher Todd Greene, the Angels suffered breakdowns in virtually every phase of the game in Thursday's 9-2 loss to the San Diego Padres before 18,203 in Qualcomm Stadium.

"This game does not sit very well with me," said Angel Manager Terry Collins, livid after the team's second consecutive blowout loss and 11th loss in the last 17 games. "Nobody feels sorry for you here, nobody.

"I don't give a . . . who was hurt. I don't care who is not in the lineup. We didn't play well, we didn't hit well, we didn't pitch well, we didn't catch the baseball . . . do that and you're gonna get your butt kicked. That's all that mattered, that's the bottom line."

Catcher John Flaherty had three hits and three runs batted in, including a two-run triple to highlight a four-run fifth inning, and third baseman Ken Caminiti had three hits, including two doubles, and an RBI for San Diego, which was coming off a 2-8 trip.

But the Angels, who are now 2-9 in interleague play and remain two games behind Seattle in the American League West, certainly did their part to further the Padres' cause.

Garret Anderson, who ranks second in the AL with 14 outfield assists, threw wildly to the plate in an attempt to cut down a second-inning run, and the normally sure-handed left fielder dropped Wally Joyner's fourth-inning drive to the gap that was generously scored a double.

Later in the fourth, first baseman Darin Erstad, who has made five errors in the last 11 games, dropped pitcher Jason Dickson's throw on Paul Menhart's bunt, a play that appeared routine, allowing a run to score.

Dickson was hit hard, giving up eight runs--six earned--in 4 1/3 innings, and in the last three games Angel starters--Dennis Springer, Allen Watson and Dickson--have been bombed for 20 earned runs in 14 innings.

Menhart, who was 0-7 with a 5.97 earned-run average when he was recalled from triple-A Las Vegas on Aug. 11, gave up only two runs on four hits in 7 2/3 innings to gain his first victory of the season for San Diego.

About the only bright spots for the Angels were Jim Edmonds' seventh-inning home run, his 21st of the season, and the center fielder's diving catch of Steve Finley's sixth-inning drive to the warning track in left-center field, another highlight-reel play for his Gold Glove campaign.

Otherwise, it was a complete disaster for the Angels.

"I don't have the answer," Collins said of his team's recent struggles, "and if I did I'd correct it so fast you would not believe it. . . . There's a lot we can do about it--we can change the lineup, change the pitchers, change the roster.

"We just need to go out and have fun, play hard, play reckless, play angry, like we have all year. We can't worry about making mistakes. If you start worrying about making bad pitches or errors you're going to make them."

Could fatigue be a factor?

"I'm the wrong guy to ask," Collins said. "I feel great. My players know one thing. If they're tired they have to tell me, because we have a good bench right now. They can take a day off."

Right fielder Tim Salmon conceded that with all that has happened in recent weeks--the Finley and Greene injuries, Tony Phillips' arrest on felony cocaine charges, his suspension and reinstatement, that some heads might still be spinning in the Angel clubhouse.

"With all the [stuff] that has gone on, everyone is like, 'Wow, what else can happen?' " Salmon said. "Then we started playing poorly, and it's like we're in a cycle where every part of our game has gone bad--pitching, hitting and defense. But we can't feel sorry for ourselves."

Salmon acknowledged the Angels are tired, "but so what, that's not a valid excuse," he said. "They're tired, too. Everyone is tired this time of year. You just have to suck it up and play."

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