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Angels Are 6-1 Losers in Oakland : McCaskill Is Victim as the A’s Hand Them 4th Straight Defeat

Times Staff Writer

Why is it that after another dismal performance by starter Kirk McCaskill Monday night, you wonder if there’s been some kind of mistake?

For instance, did doctors really remove bone chips from McCaskill’s troubled right elbow? Or did they put more in?

Also, what happened to the guy who apparently had recovered well enough after three minor league appearances to retain his place in the starting rotation?

And should the Angels, 6-1 losers to the Oakland A’s Monday night, begin perspiring a bit? They find themselves slipping slowly in the mediocre American League West Division, at last look, 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins. This latest bumble brings the Angel losing streak to a four games.

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McCaskill again lasted less than four innings. His record is 2-3. More surprising is his earned-run average since his return to the active roster July 11: 9.64. Fourteen innings of work have produced 15 earned runs.

“When you’ve been out a long time, it’s not easy to get back in competition with people who have been playing every day,” Manager Gene Mauch said. “It’s not an easy thing to do.

“His concentration to this point has been getting his stuff together, getting well. Once that’s done, you’ve still got to play the game.”

McCaskill is trying, but with unimpressive results. His previous start--and loss--was marred by a stiff shoulder and right elbow that saw him leave before the end of the fourth inning. A precautionary measure, said McCaskill and the Angels. Nothing to fret about.

Before that, in Milwaukee, McCaskill allowed five runs in 3 innings. His first start since returning from surgery, the Angels pointed out. A grace period of sorts.

But now this. Nine hits and five runs in 3 innings. A wild pitch. Four walks. McCaskill struck out five batters, including former teammate Reggie Jackson twice.

“His stuff was all right,” Mauch said.

The problem then?

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Start with Oakland starter Dave Stewart (13-7), who won his sixth consecutive decision. Stewart retired the final 11 Angel batters and allowed only five hits.

He had help, mainly an Angel lineup that was without first baseman and leading RBI producer Wally Joyner. Joyner is suffering from a rib cage injury and isn’t expected to make an appearance in the next several days.

That left the Angels with the following offense:

--Watch Devon White single twice, steal second . . . and get stranded twice. As White did what he could, Brian Downing, Jack Howell (three strikeouts) and Doug DeCinces were a collective 0 for 11.

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Instead, the Angels received their lone run from the unlikeliest of sources, shortstop Gus Polidor. In the fifth inning, Polidor hit his first major league home run.

So much for Angel highlights.

McCaskill’s troubles began in the first inning, when he spent much of his time bouncing pitches in the general direction of home plate. He allowed a single to leadoff batter Luis Polonia, followed soon thereafter by a wild pitch. He struck out Mike Davis, but then walked Jose Canseco. An out later, McCaskill walked Carney Lansford. Jackson spared McCaskill further embarrassment by striking out with the bases loaded.

Before McCaskill’s elbow injury, that would have been that. Teams rarely received a second chance from McCaskill. Bright, a conscientious student, McCaskill had a knack of returning to the mound a different pitcher after such innings. Mistakes tended to disappear as the game wore on.

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Not Monday night. If anything, McCaskill became more prone to error, more inconsistent.

His second inning was one to forget:

--Single by Tony Bernazard . . . single by Terry Steinbach . . . single by Alfredo Griffin . . . single by Polonia . . . a walk to Davis . . . Canseco double play . . . single by Mark McGwire . . . single by Lansford . . . and, again, an inning-ending strikeout by Jackson.

By the time it was over, the A’s had sent nine batters to the plate, each one apparently enjoying himself more than the next--except Jackson, of course.

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Four runs were scored in the inning, thanks to a team-record six hits, all of them singles.

“If everything goes right, if everything goes properly, professionally, they score one run in the second inning,” Mauch said.

Less than two innings later, McCaskill was gone. An uneventful third inning gave way to an all-too-eventful fourth, complete with one more run, two hits and another walk. By the time McCaskill made it to the runway and the Angel clubhouse, Jackson had ended the inning with a third strikeout.

Too late. Too bad for McCaskill.

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Angel Notes

Recently released Bill Buckner boarded a plane Monday bound for . . . California? It appears that the Angels, once thought to be longshots in the race to acquire the former Boston Red Sox first baseman, possibly could sign Buckner shortly after Tuesday’s waiver deadline passes. According to his wife, Jodie, Buckner left their Andover, Mass., home Monday and flew to join his newest employers, presumably the Angels here in Oakland or the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Sources familiar with the negotiations claim that Buckner prefers the Angels for two reasons: They can guarantee his contract for 1988 and they can guarantee him playing time on a contender.

Buckner, who was unavailable for comment Monday, would become the Angels’ left-handed designated hitter, which would go nicely with the right-handed Brian Downing. It also would allow Angel Manager Gene Mauch some added flexibility with his roster. With Buckner in the lineup, the Angels could choose to return Downing to left field, move Jack Howell to right and Devon White to center. Against right-handed pitching, Mauch also could use Howell at third, shortstop or second. And if Wally Joyner’s rib cage injury persists, Buckner could play first base, though the Angels said Joyner’s nagging ailment doesn’t figure into the team’s offer. “There are a lot of teams Bill Buckner can help, some more than others,” Mauch said. Buckner, who was released last Thursday by the Red Sox, reportedly was headed to the Minnesota Twins, a team in dire need of offensive help. But the Twins apparently were unwilling to guarantee Buckner’s contract for 1988. The Angels and Rangers aren’t as reluctant. But the Rangers, managed by Buckner’s good friend Bobby Valentine, essentially could promise only limited playing time, what with All-Star Larry Parrish firmly entrenched as the team’s DH. That apparently leaves the Angels.

Reached earlier Monday, General Manager Mike Port said the Angels were awaiting Buckner’s decision. “I have no reason to feel good about it other than we feel that we can create a positive situation for him,” Port said. ‘We’ve taken a very good shot for Bill.” Buckner has spoken with Port, Mauch and even Angel owner Gene Autry about signing with the team. According to sources, Buckner has been offered about $300,000 in salary plus incentives for 1988. He will earn about $800,000 this season, most of which will be paid by the Red Sox, unless, of course, another team acquires him before Tuesday’s 11 a.m. (PDT) waiver deadline.

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John Candelaria, who continues his comeback after a 28-day rehabilitation program, will pitch a simulated game Tuesday at Oakland Coliseum. It will mark the third time Candelaria has thrown since his return and the first such simulated game. . . . Gold Glove outfielder Gary Pettis (.211, 12 runs batted in) also was a no-show in Monday’s starting lineup. Port declined to comment about the possibility of a trade involving Pettis. He did say that “as good as glove as one has, it does not carry you forever.”


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