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Angels Have Candles Blown Out by Orioles

May 28, 1999|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Angels surprised Manager Terry Collins with a cake during a small 50th birthday celebration Thursday afternoon, but they did him no party favors Thursday night.

Pitcher Ken Hill was better but not good enough, a bullpen that had baseball's best earned-run average (2.82) gave up six hits, including Brady Anderson's grand slam, in a span of 25 pitches, and Juan Guzman left the Angel offense as deflated as a five-day old balloon, as the Baltimore Orioles whipped the Angels, 6-3, in front of 24,724 in Edison Field.

Guzman limited the Angels to one run on three hits in six innings, and Anderson broke open a 2-1 game with his grand slam off Angel left-hander Mike Magnante in the seventh.

Hill had given up six hits and two runs, walked two and struck out six in 6 1/3 innings when Collins summoned Magnante to face Anderson, a decision that ruffled Hill a bit.

"I understand the situation in terms of pitch counts, but sometimes you've got to throw that out the window," said Hill, who threw 102 pitches. "I thought I was throwing the ball well. I understand they're thinking long term, but right now we have to win. Let's worry about tomorrow tomorrow."

Collins said he "wants to make sure Ken doesn't extend himself so we can keep him in games all summer long," and he felt Magnante, a breaking-ball specialist, would have a better chance of inducing a double-play ground ball against Anderson, who was hitting .188 against left-handers.

But a low curve Magnante wanted to throw inside caught far too much of the plate, and Anderson golfed it into the right-field seats to give the Orioles a 6-1 lead.

Magnante has now allowed 10 of 13 inherited runners to score, a statistic that will surely spark conversation in the Angel front office about recalling left-hander Mike Holtz from triple-A Edmonton.

"If I threw that where it was supposed to be, it's a foul ball or a jam shot," Magnante said. "The bottom line is that pitch wasn't close to where we wanted it. Ken pitched a great game, but you look at his numbers, and it doesn't seem like it. That's because it's my job to get out of there giving up maybe one run in a worst-case scenario."

The Angels made some noise in the bottom of the eighth when Mo Vaughn, who had an RBI double in the first, homered off reliever Mike Fetters, Garret Anderson doubled and Randy Velarde singled Anderson home.

Velarde's single was the only hit by an Angel right-handed batter in 39 at-bats in the three games against the Orioles. But Darin Erstad popped to shallow left, B.J. Surhoff made a running catch and doubled Velarde off first, and Troy Glaus struck out to end the inning.

So ended another dismal night for Glaus, who sunk to such depths offensively that Collins and batting instructor Rod Carew have decided to back off a bit from the 22-year-old third baseman, hoping to clear his head rather than inundate him with too much information.

"It's all mental now," Collins said. "He's worrying about too much, like hitting the ball to both fields and staying back on the ball. I just want him to see the ball and hit it."

Glaus did neither very well Thursday night, striking out on a check swing with the bases loaded to end the first, flying out in the fourth, grounding out in the sixth and striking out in the eighth.

After hitting .359 with five homers and 16 RBIs through April 29, Glaus is nine for 86 (.105) with no homers, three RBIs and 27 strikeouts in his last 23 games, his average taking a nose dive to .226.

Collins shuffled his lineup Thursday, moving Orlando Palmeiro to the leadoff spot, Andy Sheets from ninth to second, Erstad from first to sixth and Velarde from second to fifth, but it didn't help.

Even though Hill pitched far better than he did last Friday, when he was bombed for seven runs in 3 1/3 innings by Tampa Bay, he is still stuck on one victory.

"I look at Ken as a guy who pitched his brains out to get us as far as we got," Collins said. "But the way things are going now, our starters can't make any mistakes. We give them no cushion."

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