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Bullpen Will Finally Get Some Much-Needed Rest

ANGELS REPORT

May 15, 2000|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

And on the 32nd day, the bullpen rested. Sunday's 7-6 victory over the Texas Rangers ended a grueling stretch in which the Angels played 30 games in 31 days dating to April 14, and off days today and Thursday will provide some welcome relief for Angel relievers.

Manager Mike Scioscia and General Manager Bill Stoneman have been touting their rotation depth lately, but starters have been buried amid a flurry of injuries and shoddy performances, forcing the bullpen to throw 69 2/3 innings in the last 16 games.

For the most part, Angel relievers have been up to the task. Al Levine replaced starter Jason Dickson in the second inning Sunday and threw 3 2/3 hitless innings. The right-hander has given up only two runs and 10 hits in 16 innings of his last six games.

Eric Weaver and Mark Petkovsek added hitless innings. They combined with Levine to retire 16 of 17 batters from the second through seventh inning. That gave the offense a chance to mount its sixth come-from-behind victory in the last two weeks.

"The bullpen has been awesome," said Dickson, who gave up five runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings. "During the course of the season, it seems like one part of the team carries you for a while. Right now, the starters are on the backs of the relievers.

"Those guys are dealing. I gave up five runs, and they shut down the other team. You can't ask anything more from them, but we've got to take the load off them eventually."

*

Dickson, just off a disabled-list stint because of a strained left hip flexor, needed 38 pitches to complete the first inning Sunday, when the Rangers scored four runs on four hits, but he might have escaped with no damage had third baseman Troy Glaus been able to field Ruben Mateo's hard grounder cleanly.

Chad Curtis walked with one out, Rafael Palmeiro was hit by a pitch, and David Segui walked to load the bases. Mateo followed with a two-hop smash to Glaus' left, a difficult play, but a potential 5-4-3 double-play ball, as well.

The ball squirted out of Glaus' glove. He scooped it up, made a 360-degree turn and fired to first in time to retire Mateo. But Curtis scored on the play, and the Rangers added three more runs with two out, on Mike Lamb's two-run single and Bill Haselman's RBI single.

In the second inning, Curtis reached on an infield single, Palmeiro doubled off the center-field wall for a run, and Segui walked. That was it for Dickson, who headed toward the dugout and handed the ball to Scioscia before the manager even reached the mound.

"I wasn't as sharp as I would have liked, and you can't afford to be rusty at this level," Dickson said. "I fell behind a lot of guys and gave up hits. But physically, everything felt great. That's a positive thing to take out of a negative performance."

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