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Angels’ Blyleven: ‘We Stink’ : Baseball: Pitcher blasts teammates for offensive ineptitude after 7-1 loss to Red Sox.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bert Blyleven didn’t care about losing friends Saturday when he lashed out at the Angels’ offensive failings. What he cares about is winning games, and neither the 39-year-old right-hander nor the Angels have won many this season.

Blyleven’s condemnation of his team after the Angels’ 7-1 loss to the Red Sox was born of frustration and a month of pitching with no margin for error. Although he gave up only three runs, Blyleven (1-3) he said he felt defeated as soon as he yielded one run because of the Angels’ continued inability to produce.

“You go out there and it’s 0-0 after five (innings), and they score two runs and you feel like you’ve already lost,” he said. “You’re going through the motions after that.

“Our offense is just not playing aggressive. We . . . We stink. As a pitcher you just go out and try to keep your team in the game, but you expect your teammates to help. I’m speaking for the whole pitching staff.

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“I don’t care what the offense thinks. Our offense stinks. And until that changes, we’re just going to continue our downhill slide.”

That slide that has dropped them into a virtual tie for last in the AL West Division reached four consecutive games Saturday before a season-high crowd of 50,755. Boston starter Greg Harris (4-1) gave up four hits over seven innings. The Angels’ run resulted from Chili Davis’ fly ball that a diving Tom Brunansky missed for a triple and a sacrifice fly by Dante Bichette in the seventh inning to make it 3-1.

Blyleven didn’t absolve himself of blame. He has given up 51 hits in 38 innings and has a 5.21 earned-run average.

“It’s my fault, too,” he said. “I should have gone out and pitched a shutout and hoped for a tie. . . . I’ve pitched 60 career shutouts. I’ve never felt before that I had to pitch a shutout until now. Until that changes, it puts too much pressure on the pitchers.

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“You just try to do the best you can. You just expect help, that’s all. ‘Til things change, we’re going to get four or five hits a game and that stinks. I spent five years in Cleveland, and we finished last every year but we had fun. I’m not having fun.

“What we have to do, I don’t know. I’m one out of 25 (players). I’m tired of losing, and until everybody gets tired of losing we’re going to keep losing. We’ve got a good pitching staff, and when you make a mistake, you can’t feel you’re out of the game.”

The only way to win, he said, is to make no mistakes at all. “When was the last game we won? The shutout (Chuck) Finley pitched?” Blyleven said, referring to Finley’s 6-0 victory over Baltimore last Tuesday. “That proves my point right there.”

The Angels’ loss Saturday--their 18th in their past 24 games, eighth in their past nine at Anaheim Stadium and ninth in their past 10 overall--was far from error-free. Luis Polonia misplayed an apparently harmless single to left field in the eighth inning by Brunansky, which scored Boston’s fourth run and effectively put the game away. Johnny Ray wasn’t in position to play three fifth-inning grounders that contributed to Boston’s two-run inning.

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Angel Manager Doug Rader faulted Blyleven for his pitch location, saying he was getting the ball up, but Blyleven believes the problem is located in the Angel offense.

The sixth through ninth hitters in Boston’s batting order were a combined nine for 15 with four RBIs.

The Angels have five runs in their last three games. They are next to last in the American League in scoring and team batting average.

“The offense is going through the motions,” Blyleven said. “You make one mistake as a pitcher and you’ve lost the game. We won on pitching and defense last year and also on timely hitting. We’re not getting any hitting. When was the last time we scored seven, eight, nine runs like everybody else?

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“I’ve got too much pride to be on a (terrible) ballclub.”

Bichette, the only Angel producing consistently, also acknowledged that the burden of losing was weighing heavily on him.

“You can almost feel the pressure building,” he said. “You’ve got to go out and practice so much that it’s almost instinct.”

The trick is to avoid letting losing become instinctive. “You can almost get into a groove like that where you don’t have confidence,” Bichette said. “You’ve got to keep your confidence, tough as it is. Confidence is 90% of the game.

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“It just bothers me to go out and look so bad. Getting beat’s one thing, but going out there and beating yourself, that’s not professional baseball. You do your job and get beat, that’s professional baseball. Not this.”

Angel Notes

To fill the roster spot left open by Mike Witt’s departure, the Angels recalled left-handed reliever Cliff Young from triple-A Edmonton. Young was 2-1 with a 2.45 earned-run average in nine appearances, all in relief. “He’s throwing the ball over the plate the best, so we felt he was the right guy (to promote),” Manager Doug Rader said of Young, who relies on his sinker and changeup.

Willie Fraser, sent to Edmonton April 30 when rosters went from 27 to 25, will make his third start for the Trappers today. Rader said Fraser has pitched well. . . . Reliever Greg Minton’s recovery from elbow surgery last month is being delayed by problems relating to the bone spur that was removed. "(Dr. Lewis Yocum) had to split the muscle to chip off the spur, and that’s the only thing that’s left before I can throw again,” Minton said. “The pain has gone away everywhere else.” The repair was the third for Minton, who joked that it was the “50,000-pitch tuneup” he would need every three years if he continues pitching. But he’s willing to keep going. “As long as they supply me with Vaseline, I’ll go out there,” he said.

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Red Sox starter Greg Harris is a right-hander, but he has experimented with throwing left-handed and wears a glove that’s adaptable to throwing with either hand. Harris supposedly can throw 82 m.p.h. left-handed. . . . The 11-19 record the Angels took into Saturday’s game equaled their slowest start in club history. They had identical records in 1961, ’69, ’72, ’76 and ’88.


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