Angels Lose, 5-3; Baylor Doubts ‘Killer Instinct’

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

The linescore from Sunday’s game will show that the Angels lost to the New York Yankees, 5-3, on two runs in the seventh inning.

Don Baylor and Don Mattingly supplied the runs with back-to-back homers off Al Holland, snapping a 3-3 tie.

Still 2 1/2 games ahead in the West by virtue of Kansas City’s third-straight loss to Texas, the Angels had led, 3-0, until the sixth, when New York scored three runs off Mike Witt, who was working on a two-hitter.

The Angels got only two hits over the final eight innings after getting three in a three-run first, which was where they lost it--despite what the linescore indicates.

This, at least, was the opinion expressed by Baylor, the clubhouse leader during his six years with the Angels.


“I just wonder about their killer instinct,” Baylor said at his locker Sunday. “They got those three runs, but it could have been worse. They had us down but didn’t put us away.

“It was like we got a second chance. We knew we could come back.”

The Angels have the American League’s third-best record. They have won in every imagineable way, and some that weren’t. This is the first time their aggressiveness has been questioned.

“All I’m saying is that the only runs they got in what should have been a big inning were on a walk and wild pitch,” Baylor said. “Somebody is going to have to get the key hits down the stretch. I wouldn’t try to make out their lineup, but they’ve got some proven stretch players who aren’t playing every day. Doug (DeCinces) is hurt and Bobby (Grich) seems to be struggling.

“Hitting and winning are contagious. So is losing. The Angels can’t be looking two weeks from now or it won’t matter by the time they get there.”

Baylor alluded to next Monday’s opener of a three-game series between the Angels and Royals in Anaheim. The Angels must first play three in Detroit and three in Baltimore.

They concluded the season’s series with New York by losing 9 of 12 games, a psychological mark should they meet in the playoffs. New York moved to within four games of Toronto in the East via Sunday’s victory, which found Bob Shirley and Brian Fisher retiring the last 10 Angels in order after the Angels had failed to capitalize on the seven walks, two wild pitches and one wild pickoff dispensed by starter Joe Cowley in 5 innings.

Brian Downing had opened the first with a single. Rod Carew bunted safely. Ruppert Jones was called out on strikes. Reggie Jackson singled to load the bases.

Cowley walked Jack Howell to force in a run and threw a wild pitch that catcher Ron Hassey pursued hesitantly, thinking it had hit batter Rob Wilfong. His delay allowed both Carew and Jackson to score. Wilfong now walked, putting runners at first and third with one out. Cowley escaped when Bob Boone hit a check-swing liner to Mattingly, who tagged first to double off Wilfong. The Angels stranded six runners over the next five innings, with Shirley striking out Carew after Cowley left with two on and two out in the sixth.

It was the last hurrah for the Angels, who lost their lead in the home sixth.

Witt, bidding for a third straight victory in the wake of a game in which the Angels had been routed, allowed only two singles before Rickey Henderson walked to open the sixth and Mattingly hammered a one-out, two-run homer to right center, his 24th.

A two-out single by Hassey, an ensuing error by Wilfong on a Mike Pagliarulo grounder and a single by Dan Pasqua tied the game. Witt had thrown more than 90 pitches by the time the inning ended, and was replaced by Holland in the seventh.

“Mike pitched a powerful game,” Manager Gene Mauch said. “But he didn’t have the kind of stuff when he came out that he did when he started.”

Holland, who has made nine appearances and blown the only two leads he’s been asked to preserve, blew the tie as quickly as Doug Corbett had blown Saturday’s tie.

Baylor, used strictly as a platoon DH by Billy Martin, batted for Ken Griffey with one out in the seventh and rammed the first pitch, a low fastball, over the left-center field fence for his 20th homer. Mattingly followed with his 25th, the three RBIs giving him a major league-leading 108.

Holland said he had no regrets over the pitch to Baylor, but made a bad one to Mattingly, which Mattingly deposited into the second deck in right. The Angels have allowed six homers in the last two games and 29 in the last 16, of which they’ve won eight. Mauch reflected on the loss of rookie reliever Stewart Cliburn--still sidelined with a pulled rib cage muscle--and the string of injuries that put Geoff Zahn, Urbano Lugo and Alan Fowlkes on the disabled list in a span of eight days.

“If our bullpen is intact, we’ve been handling games of this type pretty well,” Mauch said. “You take a key guy (Cliburn) out of there and you just have to wait until he gets well.”

In September, however, the Angels don’t have time to wait. A former teammate seemed to suggest that they start using their bats to compensate for their arms. Killer instinct is the way Baylor put it. He also said: “When you’re a successful club, you’ve got to win two out of every three. Especially now.”

Angel Notes Don Baylor, who now has 79 RBIs despite missing about 100 at-bats because of his platoon status, is eligible for free agency when the season ends and said he does not expect to return to New York. “My next contract will probably be my last one,” he said. “I’m not going to end my career sitting on the bench and playing part time.” . . . Of his home run, Baylor said: “I really didn’t have time to think about the situation. He’s a power pitcher. I wasn’t going to look for a curveball. I looked for a fastball on the first pitch and got it.” . . . The Yankees are now 43-16 at home, where they play 23 of their last 34 games. . . . The Angels, who had lost, 10-4, Saturday, had won eight of the previous nine games that followed double-digit defeats. . . . Daryl Sconiers, sidelined by a wrist irritation, grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, his first appearance since July 7. . . . D.W. Smith, recalled from Edmonton Saturday, was called on to get the last out in the Yankee eighth. Willie Randolph bunted safely but was thrown out attempting to steal second. . . . Doug DeCinces, who has failed to start the last 14 games, continued to encounter back stiffness, but participated in fielding and batting practice, his most vigorous workout since the lastest siege of back spasms. “He’s dying to get back in,” Manager Gene Mauch said. “And he probably has designs on tomorrow. I’m not ruling it out. He may make it.”