The rain fell hard Wednesday at Comiskey Park and, soon enough, so did the Angels.
For once, the Chicago White Sox made all the plays and the Angels made none. Or very few anyway, and their eight-game hammerlock on the White Sox ended with a 9-2 loss in front of an announced 19,956.
Crackling thunder, flashes of lightning and pelting rain forced delays in the second and fifth innings, totaling almost two hours, but they merely delayed the inevitable after Chicago’s four-run first inning.
By day’s end, the Angels headed home with a strange sense of dissatisfaction.
They had won six of nine games on their trip to Kansas City, Minnesota and Chicago, but right fielder Tim Salmon believed they should have won the three other games too.
“I think all three losses were a little frustrating,” he said.
The Angels pitched superbly at times during the trip, but left-hander Brian Anderson (6-4) wondered when he will regain last month’s form.
“Everything’s feeling really good,” said Anderson, who pitched four innings and gave up seven runs and nine hits, taking his second loss in three starts after having won five in a row.
“I know I’m going to come out of it.”
The Angels delivered their share of spectacular defensive plays in the nine games, but Manager Marcel Lachemann fretted about a few misplays Wednesday.
“We’ve got to clean it up a little bit, defensively,” he said. “We haven’t been as sharp. It’s something we need to stay on top of.”
Salmon, Anderson and Lachemann each made valid points after the Angels’ first loss in nine games against Chicago. Perhaps they were looking ahead to their next opponents--Boston, New York and Baltimore--and realized it will take better efforts to win.
The Red Sox, Yankees and Orioles certainly present tougher challenges than the three sub-.500 teams the Angels faced on this trip.
“We have a tough, tough home stand,” Salmon said. “We’ve got to play well. "[Chicago] has nothing to lose and they’re scrappy, but the clubs coming in have got some good pitching.”
The Angels face Boston’s Roger Clemens (4-4) tonight, then New York’s Jack McDowell (10-8), David Cone (13-6) and Scott Kamieniecki (3-4).
In Wednesday’s game, the Angels got off to a bad start and didn’t seem to get much better.
Third baseman Tony Phillips booted Ray Durham’s grounder in the bottom of the first and things went downhill quickly. The official scorer kindly gave Durham a hit, but it probably should have been ruled an error.
Frank Thomas followed with a run-scoring, one-out single and Lyle Mouton doubled. Robin Ventura then hit a three-run homer off Anderson (6-4). Thomas terrorized the Angels by going eight for 11 with five runs batted in during the series.
“They got the four runs in the first inning, but if we play good defense they probably don’t get any,” Lachemann said. “When you’ve gotten as much attention as we have to the offensive side, you tend to forget defense is just as important, if not more so.”
Anderson said that until Ventura’s drive cleared the right-field fence, he thought it would wind up in Salmon’s glove.
“Tim looked like he camped under it twice, but then I heard the crowd yelling and I knew they weren’t yelling because he caught it,” Anderson said.
Said Salmon: “I thought I had it a couple of different times. All the way to the wall, I thought I had it.”
In the end, it was simply another reason for Anderson to wonder why he couldn’t seem to get the desired results for the third consecutive start.
“I think I was pitching worse when I was winning,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I’m not worried about getting my stuff together. I feel like I’ve improved my stuff. . . . It’s one of those things that I’ll have to get out of and I have every bit of confidence that I will.”