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Angels Take a Beating : Baseball: Pitching, hitting problems continue as Yankees bat around against McCaskill on way to an 11-3 romp.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It is a measure of the Angels’ state that Luis Polonia, who has appeared in a mere four games, already feels an urgency to do more than he can reasonably be expected to do.

“Even myself, I am feeling a little bit of pressure. They expect so much from me,” said Polonia, who has scored four runs in four games. “I’m getting my hits myself and I’m thinking I’m trying to do so much. I want to do so much for this team. Today, I was out of control. I was getting myself out. I want to do good so bad.”

Bad is the way things are turning out, if not for Polonia, then for the Angels. Their 11-3 loss to the New York Yankees Saturday before a season-high crowd of 47,933 at Anaheim Stadium was their third loss in a row, seventh in 10 games and 12th in 17. It was also the third consecutive time their starting pitcher was hit hard and the second time in three games their opponent reached double figures in hits and runs.

In their last 26 innings, they have allowed 22 earned runs and been outscored, 26-13.

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“As a team, we’re not hitting on all cylinders,” said starter Kirk McCaskill (2-1), who had yielded three earned runs in his previous four starts and was charged with six Saturday, all in a fourth-inning spree that brought nine Yankees to the plate. “You can force it as much as you want, but until things work themselves out, you have to work to get through it.”

The 29-year-old right-hander, who is 0-4 against the Yankees in his career, cruised through three innings and was protecting the 1-0 lead provided him on Dante Bichette’s double and Jack Howell’s sacrifice fly in the second. Then came the six-hit fourth, which was as far as he went.

“They put the bat on the ball and they found holes,” said McCaskill, whose earned-run average rose from 1.07 to 2.76.

On the surface, the most damaging hits were the run-scoring double by Claudell Washington, who was sent to New York in the Polonia trade, and Mike Blowers’ single through the hole between short and third after the Angels intentionally walked Bob Geren--a .351 hitter--to get to Blowers, who carried a .208 average into the game.

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But Angel Manager Doug Rader rued the fielder’s-choice grounder by No. 9 hitter Alvaro Espinoza as much as the extra-base hit.

“After the first couple of innings, I thought (McCaskill) would breeze,” he said. “The ball that Blowers hit, I couldn’t believe. Then Jackie lays back on Espinoza’s ball. We should have turned two on that. Actually, that was the ballgame. I’m not hanging this on Jack Howell. That’s what happens to you when things aren’t going particularly well.”

Getting only one out on Espinoza’s grounder kept the inning alive for Steve Sax’s run-scoring double--which gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead--and a two-run single by Roberto Kelly, which put the game away at 6-1. Reliever Sherman Corbett fared even worse than McCaskill, giving up five hits and five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, as every Yankee starter except Espinoza got a hit.

Rader didn’t want to criticize his club’s offense, but the facts are plain. The Angels, who have a league-low team batting average of .231, have yet to score more than three runs in an inning this season and haven’t scored three in an inning in their last 41 innings. They’ve done it only once in their last 64 innings. Opponents have scored five runs in an inning three times, six once, seven once, and nine once.

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“It’s very difficult to do things offensively when you’re behind by a great number of runs,” Rader said, “but I didn’t think the game was over because we gave up three or four runs. We need to make plays and convert outs. Kirk said the ball was finding holes--you give guys enough opportunities, they’re going to find holes. The whole object is to minimize those opportunities so there will be fewer holes.”

The Angels insisted they can’t force themselves out of their doldrums, and Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly agreed. He should know: New York was on a five-game losing streak before prevailing over Mark Langston Friday and McCaskill Saturday and had been sputtering offensively.

“It turns around quick,” he said. “Wally (Joyner), Chili (Davis), those guys are going to hit. They always have. It’s just a matter of time, just like it was for us. They could all get hot tomorrow, but hopefully they won’t until after we leave.”

Angel Notes

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The Angels have suggested that infielder Mark McLemore give up switch-hitting at least temporarily in favor of hitting right-handed. McLemore was hitting .125 overall, which broke down to .077 left-handed (two for 26) and .214 right-handed (three for 14) before Saturday’s game.

Dante Bichette entered Saturday’s game with 27 hits, a figure he didn’t reach last season until his 46th game. He extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a second-inning double. . . . Brian Downing was not in Saturday’s lineup and did not appear at all in the Angels’ previous five games. . . . John Orton started at catcher for the first time since last Sunday, when he injured his left shoulder in a home-plate collision. He was hitless in his five previous Anaheim Stadium at-bats this season.


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