Faulty Defense Does In the Angels


The Angel offense is used to shouldering the blame. But it wasn’t their fault this time.

“You want to continue to harp on our offense, that’s your prerogative,” Manager Doug Rader said. “We scored four runs in the first inning and it should have held up.”

Two Angel errors in the seventh inning led to five unearned runs, however, and the Orioles managed a 6-5 victory at Anaheim Stadium Monday night.

The Angels scored four runs in the first, their biggest inning of the season, and by the seventh, Bert Blyleven was cruising along as if he might become the first Angel to pitch a complete game this season.


And then Blyleven, moving to cover first base on Sam Horn’s grounder, missed an easy toss from Wally Joyner that would have been the third out of the inning.

And the Angels came undone. Before the inning was over, the Orioles had scored five runs, all unearned, and committed two errors--the one by Blyleven, and another by catcher John Orton, who didn’t handle Dante Bichette’s throw from right to the plate.

The two errors pushed the team’s total to 23, a 143-error pace by a team that made only 96 last season.

“We’re not nearly as good defensively as we were last year,” Rader said. “It showed up tonight.”

Before the error, Blyleven was breezing. He had allowed five hits over 6 2/3 innings. It didn’t matter that four of the hits were doubles because no one made it past second base.

But with Randy Milligan on second after a two-out double, Horn hit a ball sharply down the first-base line. Joyner stopped it behind first, but Blyleven mishandled Joyner’s toss.

That extended the inning and left Blyleven with runners on first and third. He didn’t survive the inning, and neither did the Angels’ 4-0 lead.

“It was my own fault,” Blyleven said. “I made the error that opened it up. It just hit the top of my glove. I saw it all the way.”

After a run-scoring single by third baseman Craig Worthington, catcher Bob Melvin came to the plate with Horn at second. He singled to right, where Bichette fielded the ball and made a strong throw to home, trying for his ninth outfield assist of the season. But Orton never caught the ball--and the collision at the plate--so hard that Horn was removed from the game, wasn’t even important.

“I never got it,” Orton said. “I kind of waited for it to come up on the first hop and it kind of stayed down. If I catch it on the short hop, we get it. We had plenty of time.”