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Defense Shows Off Its Range : Angel Performances Were Good, Bad and Also Very Ugly

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

The Angel defense was on display Sunday at Anaheim Stadium. And the 30,224 who braved the 106-degree heat were witness to a whole spectrum of defensive performance, ranging from the very good to the bad to the genuinely ugly.

In one sweltering afternoon, the Red Sox and the Angels battled for 10 innings over four hours and the Angels provided enough thrills and spills to produce a decent highlight film, complete with one of those crowd-pleasing blooper segments.

The Red Sox managed to salvage one game of the four-game series with a 6-5 victory, but it was the getting there that produced all the fun.

One look at the Angels’ starting lineup was all it took to recognize the possibility for disaster. The Angels began the day with an outfield featuring three misplaced persons: Catcher Darrell Miller was in left; left-fielder Mike Brown was in right, and right-fielder Chili Davis was in center.

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By the end of the third inning, two of them--Miller and Brown--had committed errors and the Red Sox had three runs, one of which was unearned. Boston got two more unearned runs in the seventh.

“Our defense wasn’t too good today,” Manager Cookie Rojas said. “We gave them three runs in the third.”

But first, a quick look at Sunday’s sparkling glove work.

The Good:

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--Brown, racing toward the fence in right-center, makes a nice backhand stab of Dwight Evans’ drive to the warning track in the fifth inning.

--Miller reaches two rows into the stands to snatch a foul fly ball off the bat of Todd Benzinger in the sixth.

--Shortstop Dick Schofield goes deep into the hole to make a staggering backhand grab of a looping line drive by Marty Barrett in the eighth.

--Schofield goes into the hole again, this time to scoop up a grounder by Evans. On the edge of the infield grass, Schofield spins and fires to first, just ahead of Evans’ headfirst dive.

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--Greg Minton makes a backhand reaction stab of a line drive by Benzinger, looks down and realizes he’s got the ball and then turns and throws to second for a double play.

“See the way I charged that ball?” Minton said, smiling. “I’m getting too old for that kind of stuff.”

The Bad:

--After Rick Cerone had doubled to open the third, Miller plays like an unsticky wicket for Wade Boggs’ single. The ball rolls up to him--and then rolls between his legs--erasing any hopes of getting the less-than-fleet catcher at the plate and allowing Boggs to jog into second.

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--With Red Sox runners on first and third and two out in the seventh, Ellis Burks hits a grounder to third. Jay Howell, doing his best imitation of Miller, allows the ball to go through his legs and down the line for a two-base error.

“The ball hit the bag,” Howell said. “I reached down to backhand it and it skipped off the bag to the other side.”

Rojas: “If he says it hit the bag, it hit the bag. He was closer than me. But that doesn’t change the fact it went through his legs.”

The Ugly:

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--With two on and one out in the third, Mike Greenwell hits a low fly ball to right. Brown starts back, turns awkwardly, sticks his glove up near his face, but the ball skips off his glove and drops behind him. Because there is only one out, the runners have to hold before advancing and the bases are loaded.

“I stunk today,” Brown said. “You could’ve picked up anybody off a bus stop and got a better game out of them. I turned to catch it and got my feet crossed up. But you still gotta catch that ball.”

--In the seventh, with the Burks’ ball that had caromed off the bag still on his mind, Howell makes a crucial error . . . of judgment. The score is tied, 4-4, and the bases are loaded with two out. Larry Parrish hits a grounder to third. Howell stays back, fields the ball about 10 feet behind the bag and then tries to beat Burks to the base for the forceout. The speedy Burks gets there first, however, while Parrish plods into first.

“With Parrish running, there’s no question that he should have thrown to first,” Rojas said.

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Howell was more concerned with fielding the ball than what might happen next, however.

“It was almost the exact same ball as the one that hit the bag so my first instinct was to concentrate on catching the ball,” Howell said. “I was laying back and then when I got it, I had no momentum toward the bag. Looking back, I would have been better off to throw the ball to first . . . especially with Parrish running.”

Three innings later, Parrish doesn’t have to run very hard as he circles the bases after hitting a game-winning homer.

“We messed up a couple of balls,” Rojas said. “These things happen. But there’s no alibis. Are we going to say it was too hot? Or too smoggy? The guy hit the ball to third and we should have been out of the inning.

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“Today, we screwed up. That’s all there is to it.”

Maybe it’s as simple as that. But at least the Angels provided some excitement on an afternoon when it was almost too hot to watch baseball, yet alone play it very well.


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