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BASEBALL EXTRA

Angels Do Nothing but Strand Around in Loss to Kansas City

Baseball: Anaheim goes 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position and falls, 3-1, in 13 innings.

September 14, 1997|CHRIS FOSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

By the time it was over, the few thousand fans remaining may not have realized they had witnessed another watershed moment in the Angels' fall in the American League West. Then again, maybe they did.

Gone were so many chances in a 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals that took 13 innings and five hours Saturday. The Angels stranded a season-high 18 runners and were 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position.

Gone was another chance to gain ground on first-place Seattle. The Angels trail the Mariners by 5 1/2 games with 14 left.

Gone, maybe, was starting pitcher Jason Dickson, who took a line drive off his right elbow in the seventh inning. Although X-rays were negative, he was put in the wait-and-see category.

All in all, those among the 16,552 at Anaheim Stadium who didn't stay to the bitter end might have been the lucky ones. If he could, Angel Manager Terry Collins might have gone home and barbecued too.

"From where I was sitting, we weren't doing anything," Collins said.

"You can look at the entire five-hour game and a lot of things could have happened. . . . It didn't matter. No matter what we tried to do, we didn't do it."

The Royals finally did. Dean Palmer led off the 13th with a triple to right-center field. Roderick Myers walked and attempted to steal. Second baseman Tony Phillips waved at and missed catcher Angelo Encarnacion's throw and the ball sailed into center field. Palmer scored and Myers went to third.

"I just missed the ball," was Phillips' explanation.

Jeff King's sacrifice fly scored Myers. So the Royals were also hitless with runners in scoring position, just not as often (0 for 8).

"It's just disappointing when you have so many opportunities," shortstop Gary DiSarcina said. "We had two, three, four chances to win this game."

Not to mention five, six, seven . . .

"You can sit here and analyze the 10th inning or the 12th inning, but we could have won the game in the seventh, sixth, fifth, third," Collins said.

The 10th and 12th, though, were glaring.

Garret Anderson singled to lead off the 10th and was sacrificed to second. He moved to third on a wild pitch by Jeff Montgomery, but neither Chad Kreuter nor DiSarcina could get him home. Kreuter struck out and DiSarcina flied out.

In the 12th, Anderson doubled and moved to third when Rickey Henderson reached on Palmer's error. Henderson took second unchallenged. Montgomery struck out pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro, and DiSarcina waved at a pitchout--the Royals' second in five pitches--for a third strike on a squeeze play. Phillips then looked at strike three.

"There were so many times we could have won the game with a hit or a fly ball or a ground ball," Collins said. "We couldn't put the ball in play."

Even Tim Salmon, who was hitting .371 with runners in scoring position, was having trouble. His sacrifice fly in the fifth accounted for the Angels' only run. He also left a runner on second twice.

"It's bad enough to lose a game like this," DiSarcina said. "It's even worse to lose like this when you're in a pennant race."

The Angels, on the fringe of the race now, might not be in one much longer. They may have lost more than a game Saturday.

Larry Sutton's seventh-inning line drive struck Dickson so hard that the ball ricocheted directly to first baseman Darin Erstad for a painful 1-3 putout. Dickson had been impressive up until the injury. He had eight strikeouts and had given up five hits, including Jermaine Dye's bases-empty home run in the seventh.

"We'll have to see how it is in a couple days," Collins said.

It was another in a line of mishaps that have cost the Angels front-line players. Starting pitcher Chuck Finley and catcher Todd Greene were injured in late August--when the Angels were tied for first place. Starting pitchers Mark Langston and Mark Gubicza have been out most of the season.

"I had three guys in the lineup today who probably shouldn't have been," Collins said. "But this is not the time to be taking games off."

The Angels did Saturday and it cost them.

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