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Struggling Angels Score a Run; Romanick, Moore Make It Good

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Gene Mauch has preached patience while Angel hitters have flailed away at pitches as if their bats were soda straws.

This hitless-wonders bit isn’t going to last forever, Mauch points out. And, boy, once the Angels break out of this slump of slumps, Mauch says, “we’re going to have some real fun.”

Sunday, the Angels had to wonder: Are we having fun yet?

In their series finale against the Kansas City Royals, the Angels did not exactly overload the circuitry in the Anaheim Stadium scoreboard. Their offensive output for the afternoon: six singles and one run. The run represented the second for the Angels since Tuesday.

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But it could have been worse. For the first time since Monday, the Angels won a game.

Ron Romanick and Donnie Moore milked that one run for all it was worth, combining to complete a 1-0 victory in front of an Anaheim Stadium crowd of 41,973, ending a three-game losing streak and reclaiming first place in the American League West from Kansas City.

The Royals had briefly supplanted the Angels after their victory Saturday night, but Sunday’s shutout placed the Angels back atop the standings by a half-game.

Fifty-four games have been played, one-third of the 162-game regular season. Mauch thought it was a milestone worth noting.

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“What we’ve done now, we have to do two more times,” Mauch said.

The Angels begin the second third of the schedule in first place in spite of their bats, which, despite the evidence, are actually constructed of wood and not Styrofoam. The team batting average is down to .232. Brian Downing, the team’s co-most valuable player in 1984, is hitless in his last 32 at bats.

This offensive machine chewed up Kansas City starter Danny Jackson (4-3) in the fourth inning, spitting out a single to Mike Brown, a walk to Reggie Jackson and an RBI single to Bob Boone.

And then, it rested. Again.

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But by the grace of Romanick, who allowed just one Royal to reach third base in seven innings, and the guile of Moore, who earned his 12th save, the Angels were able to take that one run and wring a victory out of it.

And that, Mauch said, was fun.

“It wasn’t exactly the way I had it planned, but it was fun,” he said. “We didn’t exactly strike fear in their (the Royals’) hearts with our bats, but neither did they.

“This could be the beginning of all the fun we’ve talked about.”

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If so, Sunday’s game was testimony to small beginnings. Two of the Angels’ six hits were of the infield variety and, excluding the fourth inning, when they scored, and the third, when they left the bases loaded, no Angel runners reached second base.

That placed that much more pressure on Romanick, who is quickly becoming to this team what Nolan Ryan was to the Angels of the 1970s--not in pitch velocity, but in slump-ending ability. Six times this year, Romanick (7-2) has been asked to stop an Angel losing streak. Sunday marked the fifth time he succeeded.

Romanick has earned the tag of team stopper, whether he wants it or not.

“It’s a challenge,” he admitted. “I knew what I had to do. My job today for the first five innings was to shut them down completely and put pressure on their pitcher (Jackson). He’s their best pitcher, but we got to him once and had him on the ropes a couple of times.

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“I just had to make it to the late innings, when we could go to the thoroughbred in the bullpen.”

Romanick yielded six hits in seven innings, all of them singles. Royals’ first baseman Steve Balboni, who usually turns games in Anaheim into his own personal home run derby, had two singles off Romanick and another off Moore.

That was all right with Romanick.

“Balboni can beat you with one pitch,” Romanick said. “He’ll either strike out or hit one 100 miles. I’ll give him 10 singles to one home run any day. He’s not going to beat you with singles.”

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But after Romanick surrendered singles to Frank White and Greg Pryor in the seventh inning, Mauch made the call for Moore. Moore retired the side in order in the eighth but made matters interesting in the ninth.

Allowing a single to Balboni and a one-out single to Pat Sheridan, Moore had to get two outs with the tying run at second. The first came via a strikeout by pinch-hitter Dane Iorg. Moore then got the final out by getting another pinch-hitter of note, George Brett, to hit into a force play.

“All managers manage as well as their bullpen pitches,” Mauch said. “Donnie has set ‘em down a lot of times this year.”

It’s nice for a manager to be able to count on something. Especially when he can count his team’s daily allotment of runs on his index finger.

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Angel Notes

Shutout News: Sunday’s was the third of the year for the Angels, but their first since April 25 against Seattle. For the Royals, it marked the second time they had been held scoreless in 1985. The first was another 1-0 affair, a loss to Toronto on April 10. Danny Jackson was also involved in that one, pitching nine innings for no decision. . . . The Angels held a strike vote before the game and the tally was 26-0 in favor of a strike. Said Ron Romanick, the team’s player representative: “I’m very proud we had a unanimous vote. That shows we’re unified and prepared. Nobody wants a strike, but you have to be prepared for the worst. Otherwise, the other side will be able to take advantage of you. That’s the way negotiations are.” Romanick said no strike deadline date has been set. “It’s too early to decide that,” he said. “We still have 1-1 1/2 months to negotiate that. Nobody will know until the last possible minute.” . . . Steve Rogers received credit for the victory in the Edmonton Trappers’ 7-2 triumph over Vancouver Sunday. Rogers, released by Montreal and signed to a minor league contract by the Angels, allowed five hits and no runs in five innings. He struck out four and walked one. . . . Rod Carew is expected to be activated from the disabled list today. How that affects the Angels’ roster, Manager Gene Mauch isn’t sure. “We’ll figure that out tomorrow (Monday),” Mauch said. . . . The Angels open a three-game home series tonight against the Texas Rangers. Kirk McCaskill (0-4) will oppose Mike Mason (4-5) in a 5:20 p.m. game.


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