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Angels Debut Comedy Show

Baseball: Mental lapses and poor pitching lead to an embarrassing 10-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

April 28, 1999|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Whatever momentum and positive vibes the Angels generated in Monday night's emotional victory over Toronto wore off in about 1.7 seconds Tuesday night.

Shannon Stewart opened the first inning with a single off Angel starter Omar Olivares, and from there the game deteriorated quicker than decorum on a "Jerry Springer Show" set. The Angels crumbled amid a blur of mental lapses and errors.

The Blue Jays won, 10-1, before an Edison Field crowd of 17,899 that witnessed the Angels' most unsightly game of the season, even uglier than Saturday's error-filled loss in Kansas City.

For much of last week, the Angels were the Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz"--Darin Erstad said they weren't playing with much heart during a 1-4 trip through Toronto and Kansas City. Tuesday night the Angels looked like the Scarecrow--they didn't have a brain.

They sleepwalked through the first inning, gift-wrapping the Blue Jays' four-run rally with two mental errors. They gave up their third home run to Toronto's No. 9 hitter--Pat Kelly--in a week in the fourth. An absent-minded play by third baseman Troy Glaus, who essentially escorted Shawn Green to the plate during a rundown, led to another run in the fifth.

"You could say a lot about this game, but nothing you guys could print," right fielder Tim Salmon said. "It was a bad game. No intensity, nothing. We couldn't field it, hit it or pitch it. Every aspect of our game wasn't there tonight, and it was pretty embarrassing."

What disgusted the Angels most was the way they folded after the first, barely providing any resistance to Toronto starter Pat Hentgen, who was hit hard by the Angels on Thursday but gave up three measly singles and no runs in seven innings Tuesday night.

This, after all, was a team that has already come from behind to win four games and prides itself on a never-say-die attitude.

"You've got to come out with intensity," Salmon said. "They're a good team, but when you're down by four, you've got to battle. We've been getting beat, but we haven't fallen apart. Let's hope that was the first and last time this happens, because that's not us. That's not the character of this team."

No one flung any chairs afterward. There was no screaming matches, no closed-door meeting.

"They're professionals, they know how bad they were, so there's no need to say anything," Manager Terry Collins said. "We stunk. There's no other way to put it. [Tonight] we will come back and play better, because if we don't, we will find someone who will."

The first inning set the tone when Olivares, the team's best pitcher up to this point, gave up as many runs in one inning as he did in his previous three starts combined.

Green hit a two-out single, stole second, and Carlos Delgado walked. Olivares did such a poor job holding the runners that Green and Delgado pulled off a double steal without drawing a throw from catcher Matt Walbeck.

Tony Fernandez dumped a broken-bat, two-run single into right and caught shortstop Andy Sheets and second baseman Randy Velarde off-guard with a delayed steal, cruising into second after Walbeck's throw to the mound.

Olivares, however, threw the ball into center field, allowing Fernandez to take third. After Willie Greene's walk, Darrin Fletcher lofted a two-run double to the gap in left-center, Fernandez jogging home and Greene beating Sheets' relay to the plate.

Kelly's two-run homer made the score 6-0 in the fourth, and the Blue Jays added another run in the fifth when Glaus ran Green all the way from third to the plate in a rundown without throwing to Walbeck.

Olivares, who entered with a 1.77 earned-run average, left with a 3.70 ERA and a 0-5 mark against Toronto. Asked what impostor invaded his body Tuesday night, Olivares said, "I don't know, I should hire an exorcist and find out."

Collins may want one for the rest of Angels as well.

"We need to pick up the intensity level," Collins said, "and I'm absolutely certain it will change [tonight]."

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