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Dreary Day for Angels

Baseball: Their rally from big deficit can't hide frustration of stranding 12 runners in 7-4 loss to Devil Rays.

May 17, 1999|CHRIS FOSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

This, quite obviously, wasn't the Angels' finest hour. Rarely had so many done so much so poorly.

That the Angels were able to bring the tying run up in the ninth impressed Manager Terry Collins. That Tim Unroe grounded out, leaving two on, to end a 7-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Sunday was more representative of the situation.

The Angels' hitting woes continued. They stranded 12 runners, with Todd Greene leaving five.

The fielding turned a bit shoddy. Greene had a passed ball and a throwing error. And every fly ball was an adventure for left fielder Dave Silvestri, who is usually an infielder.

All that was left was for the pitching to falter. It did, with knuckleballer Steve Sparks having a second bad outing, and the team falling behind, 7-0, in the top of the fifth inning.

Basically, the Angels were poor models for a Little League Parade Day crowd of 35,064 at Edison Field.

"We brought the tying run up in the ninth," Collins said. "That's all you can ask."

Not really. Now if it was Mo Vaughn, then it's all you can ask.

He had a two-run homer that went 440 feet in the fifth. It gave him 15 runs batted in over the last six games. The rest of the team has eight RBIs in that time.

Darin Erstad has driven in three runs in the last 19 games. Troy Glaus' average has plummeted from .344 on May 2 to .255. With Tim Salmon out, Vaughn has been left to pull his considerable weight and then some.

"I don't feel any pressure to drive in runs," Vaughn said. "When I was younger, I did. I know I can't carry a team alone."

Garret Anderson and Greene tried to help. Each had bases-empty home runs. Anderson's came one batter too late and Greene's came one at-bat too late.

Greene fouled out to third baseman Herbert Perry with the bases loaded to end the seventh. Anderson led off the eighth with a home run. Greene then homered the next time up, cutting Tampa Bay's lead to three, 7-4, in the ninth.

It was a good ending to a bad day for Greene, who was elevated to fourth in the batting order the first day back from a three-game suspension. Besides leaving the bases loaded, he took a third strike with runners on second and third in the third.

"I was probably a little too giddy," Greene said. "In those situations, I believe I'm a good hitter. I'm a smart hitter, but I'm really hitting dumb right now."

Things weren't much better in the field. Greene's passed ball on a third strike to Jose Canseco allowed Dave Martinez, who had two triples and a home run, to score for a 4-0 lead in the third.

In the fifth, Greene fielded a nubber by Paul Sorrento to the left of the plate, spun and threw into right field. It led to an unearned run.

"Sometimes I play too aggressive," Greene said. "That's one I should have put in my back pocket."

Silvestri, meanwhile, made his first major league start in the outfield and his sixth appearance--his first since May 21, 1996, when he was with the Montreal Expos.

He didn't exactly get a chance to get settled in left field.

Martinez, Tampa Bay's second batter, lined a pitch that nearly had Silvestri running in circles. It went for a triple. Next, Canseco clubbed one into the left-field alley that Silvestri managed to chase down with Martinez scoring.

The fun wasn't over. Fred McGriff then lined a ground-rule double into the left-field corner and Perry rolled a single past shortstop Andy Sheets, with McGriff beating Silvestri's throw to the plate for a 2-0.

"I thought in the dugout, 'You have to admire their scouting report to test him so early,' " Collins joked. "We had him in the lineup for his bat. He was killing the ball in triple A."

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