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Martinez’s One-Hitter Keeps Angels’ Bats Quiet

Times Staff Writer

The Angels’ team batting average reached a new low Wednesday night: .234.

So did their enthusiasm, which appeared to be zero.

Dennis Martinez contributed to both, pitching Baltimore to a one-hit 4-0 victory.

The Angels, who got only five hits over the last 14 innings of their 15-inning 6-5 win Tuesday night, reached Martinez for only a third-inning single by Jerry Narron, a hard-hit drive that landed cleanly in center.

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“He was decent . . . give him credit for a one-hitter,” Reggie Jackson said, “but we were as bad as he was good. It was as flat as I’ve seen us all year.”

A late afternoon thunderstorm had created doubt that the game would be played.

The Angels, their luggage on the equipment trunk in preparation for the flight home and their bats misplaced earlier this season, may have been rooting for the rain, hoping that a return to Anaheim would finally provide an elixir for the offense.

The rain stopped, the tarp came off, and the right-handed Martinez, bidding for the 100th win of his eight-year career, rose to the occasion.

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Or was it that the Angels, who were 3-5 on the trip and completed a streak of 32 straight games against the East with a 16-16 record, simply sunk a little deeper in their offensive morass?

“All he had to do to get us out was throw strikes,” Bobby Grich said.

“He wasn’t throwing exceptionally hard and he didn’t have a great breaking pitch.

“All he did was change his game pattern by throwing a lot more sinkers than he normally does.

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“We came to the park not sure we were going to play, then at 5 minutes to 7 they tell us we are. No batting practice, no infield.

“I’m not making an excuse, but it’s a fact that you’re going to have a flat night like this once in awhile. It’s going to happen. You try to psych up, but there’s no way to prevent it.”

Martinez had lost to the Angels, 5-3, on May 25. He carried a 4-3 record and 4.29 ERA. He had left his start against Oakland after five innings with a sore elbow.

He put no strain on it against the Angels, requiring only 87 pitches. He faced 28 batters, one over the minimum.

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Ruppert Jones walked to open the second and was erased in a double play. Narron was erased in a double play after opening the third with his full-count single. Juan Beniquez was hit by a two-out pitch in the fourth and was stranded when Jones struck out. Martinez retired the last 16 Angels in order.

Said Manager Gene Mauch:

“You’d have to ask the players how good Martinez was because obviously we weren’t very (good).

“It’s just difficult sitting around all day wondering if you’re going to play or not. I’ve spent my whole like looking for a way to prevent that from happening, but I haven’t found it.

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“I liked our mood at the outset, but after they got a couple runs it wasn’t there anymore. Of course, a pitcher can take it away from you if he’s that good, and I’ve seen Martinez that good before, even when he wasn’t pitching a one-hitter. He was as good a right-hander as there was in the league in ’77, ’78 and ’79.”

Baltimore’s first three batters provided Martinez with the only run he required. Lee Lacy singled, stole second, took third on a sacrifice and scored on Cal Ripken’s single. A walk and a single by Fred Lynn made it 2-0 in the first and left Kirk McCaskill winless in four decisions.

McCaskill, who has a 6.00 ERA through seven starts, walked six in six innings, yielding six hits and three runs.

Mauch refused to speculate on McCaskill’s immediate future.

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“I don’t judge every player every day,” he said.

“If we’d won 5-4, everyone would be telling him (McCaskill) what a nice job he had done.”

The Angels remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Kansas City, which lost to Milwaukee. This is the way it is again in the West. The Angels now return to Anaheim and the division to play nine in a row against Kansas City, Texas and Chicago.

Mauch reflected on 16-16 against the East and said his team matched up against anyone anywhere. He said his team played well enough to win 18 or 19 of the 32 games but was devoid of much luck.

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“I’d be concerned if we had been lucky and gone 16-16,” Mauch said, “but we weren’t lucky.

“If there is any credence to the East being as tough as the West it’s that the pitching is a little tougher. That doesn’t mean it can’t be beaten, but it seems to me that we’ve seen a lot of good pitching the last month.

“That also doesn’t mean it’s going to be a cookie going back to play the West. We’re going to have to keep busting our butts.”

But can the Angels find some bats that aren’t busted.

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Angel Notes

Rod Carew, eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday, continues to experience discomfort from the stress fracture in his left foot, a team spokesman said after talking to Dr. Lewis Yocum. Carew, who did not accompany the Angels on this trip, will attempt to take batting practice before the Angels’ game with Kansas City in Anaheim Friday. His condition will then be reevaluated by Dr. Yocum. . . . Doug DeCinces sat out the trip finale as a precautionary reaction to the wet grounds and the fact he went 15 innings Tuesday night, just one day after coming off the disabled list.


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