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BASEBALL EXTRA | ANGEL REPORT : NOTES

Erstad the Lone Bright Spot in Loss

September 09, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Darin Erstad was hitless in his last 18 at-bats entering Monday night's game against Toronto, and there were no in-depth explanations or excuses for the first baseman's slump.

"I just stink right now, it's that simple," Erstad said before the game. "I'm swinging at their pitches, not mine. Everyone says you're going to go through stretches like this, but it's no time to panic. . . . I just have to try to do the little things to help the team."

Little things? Erstad was Mr. Big on Monday night, homering twice and knocking in a career-high five runs in the Angels' 12-10 loss to the Blue Jays. Erstad highlighted a three-run third with a two-run homer and broke a 7-7 tie with a three-run homer in the top of the eighth.

The Angels blew it in the bottom of the eighth, giving up five runs, but there was at least one encouraging sign--Erstad snapped out of his funk, and the Angels had 12 hits, the first time they reached double figures in 11 games.

"You can't do anything after a game like this except take the positives from it," Rickey Henderson said. "We have to hold our heads high and realize that's baseball, and anything can happen."

TONIGHT'S GAME

ANGELS' KEN HILL (7-11, 5.14 ERA) vs. BLUE JAYS' CRIS CARPENTER

(1-7, 6.84 ERA)

SkyDome, Toronto, 4:30 p.m.

TV--Channel 9. Radio--KTZN (710).

* Update--Hill is about the closest thing the Angels have to an ace right now. He pitched well in his last two starts, giving up one run and three hits in seven innings against Detroit on Thursday night and one run and four hits in 8 1/3 innings against San Diego on Aug. 29. He will face a lineup that does not include third baseman Ed Sprague (torn labrum) and shortstop Alex Gonzalez (broken finger), but does include a bunch of youngsters such as center fielder Shannon Stewart and third baseman Tom Evans who are trying to show Manager Cito Gaston they can play in the big leagues. "Teams like that can be dangerous sometimes," Angel Manager Terry Collins said. "They're loose, and they have something to play for--knocking a team out of a pennant race."

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