It was hard to tell what was hotter--the 91-degree temperature, the Oakland Athletics overcoming a five-run deficit to hand the Angels their fourth consecutive loss, or the 35-minute verbal lashing Manager Marcel Lachemann administered after an 11-9 loss.
Lachemann is not a screamer, like Earl Weaver or Dallas Green, nor will he physically knock down his players like Lou Piniella or the late Billy Martin.
But he did get some points across to a team that has given up 35 runs in the past three games and fallen back to .500.
“He told us the things that needed to be said,” said reliever Troy Percival, whom Geronimo Berroa stung for a three-run homer.
“When we lose one or two games, we can make it seem like 40. He reminded us we have to relax and play our game. But we also have to learn that if we lose that day, we can come back and win the next day.”
“He’s trying to give us some piece of mind,” said Rich Monteleone, the first of four Angel relievers who could not hold a two-run lead that starter Jason Grimsley left them.
“We know we have to come out and execute--do the job like we know how to do and have some fun,” said Monteleone. “That’s a key for us right now; to go out and have some fun. We can’t keep acting like every pitch or at-bat is our last.”
There have been several moments of fun for the Angels this season. But so far they have proven to be streaky, winning nine of 10 for 1 1/2 weeks, then losing six of seven. Currently they are in another slide, having lost seven of the last 11, and the Angels are in danger of falling out of sight in the AL West race.
Although he acknowledges the team’s “lack of consistency,” pitcher Mark Langston remembers the team’s big push in the division race last year came after the All-Star break.
Can lightning strike twice?
Yes,” Langston said. “There’s no real area you can point to, but I still think it boils down to pitching. The offense is fine. And I will still put our pitching up against anybody’s in the division--even Seattle’s if they get Randy Johnson back.
“The offense has been doing its job. It’s up to us--the pitchers--to step up. If we give this team a chance to win games, more often than not it will do so.”
Saturday, the offense broke out for nine runs and 16 hits, the ninth time the Angels have recorded 15 or more hits in a game. Normally it’s a good omen; before Saturday the Angels were 6-2 in those games.
But if you can’t keep the opposition from slugging the ball--Oakland hit three more home runs against the Angels Saturday, giving them 14 in the series with one game remaining--even a good offense will be overwhelmed.
The loss overshadowed catcher Pat Borders, who homered twice and had three hits.
“The last time I homered twice? Probably 1985, in [the minors],” said Borders, the first Angel catcher to homer twice in a game here since Lance Parrish on Sept. 9, 1991, against Minnesota.
“But a loss takes away everything good you did individually. There’s nothing good you can say about today. When you lose, it doesn’t matter.”