Rookie Dickson Goes Distance as Angels Overwhelm Royals

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Angel Manager Terry Collins will take advantage of two off-days to use a four-man rotation for the next two weeks, but pitcher Chuck Finley had another suggestion.

"How about we just let [Jason] Dickson throw every game," Finley said.

"Yeah, he doesn't need any rest," outfielder Garret Anderson added. "He didn't even break a sweat today."

That's how dominating Dickson, a rookie right-hander, was against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, throwing a three-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks to lead the Angels to an 11-1 victory before 17,176 in Kauffman Stadium.

Tim Salmon put his slump even further behind him with four hits, including two doubles, and a career-high five runs batted in, and Anderson added four hits and an RBI to lead a season-high 18-hit attack. But it seemed all anyone could talk about afterward was Dickson, who leads the American League in complete games with two.

Dickson had a no-hitter through 3 2/3 innings before Jay Bell doubled, and he lost his shutout when Craig Paquette homered in the eighth. But that was Dickson's only mistake.

The 24-year-old native of Chatham, New Brunswick, faced only 29 hitters, two over the minimum, and kept the Royals off-balance by mixing his fastball and curve with his changeup.

"What an outing--wow, he really dealt," said Salmon, whose two-run single keyed a five-run first inning. "You almost have to remind yourself he's a rookie, because I don't think of him as one."

Dickson improved to 3-0 and lowered his earned-run average to 2.45. Two of his victories were complete-game performances with no walks.

"He has a confident look about him where you know he wants to succeed," shortstop Gary DiSarcina said. "He's young and it's early in the season, but boy, I tell ya, he's got unlimited potential."

Dickson is looking only as far as his next start, nothing beyond. And don't you dare mention the possibility of him winning rookie of the year honors.

"That's the last thing on my mind," said Dickson, who threw 104 pitches, 69 for strikes. "You get in trouble if you start looking ahead. I'm going to start 30-35 games and I'm going to get hit, so you can't get cocky. My goal is to stay healthy because that seems to be the hardest thing to do."

Another goal is to never walk a batter.

"I'd rather give up a solo home run than a walk--that's probably why I've given up so many home runs," Dickson said. "I like to challenge guys. I get real frustrated when I walk someone, so I try to avoid it."

It must be frustrating to hit against Dickson, because he doesn't have one overpowering pitch. His fastball tops out at 90 mph, and his curve is good but not great.

But he can change speeds and locate both pitches on each corner and mix them with a changeup that had the Royals swinging off their front feet all afternoon.

Royal left fielder Bip Roberts was so steamed after his fourth-inning strikeout that he snapped his bat in half over his knee.

"He does all the things you try to teach young pitchers to do," Collins said. "When he's making all his pitches he's tough to hit because he keeps you off-balance. That's the key to pitching--never let the hitter become comfortable."

Angel hitters found their comfort zone early against Royal starter Glendon Rusch, a rookie left-hander who entered with a 2-0 record and 1.20 ERA. After two walks and an error in the first, Salmon, Eddie Murray and Anderson hit run-scoring singles and Craig Grebeck added a sacrifice fly.

The Angels added two runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings off reliever Mitch Williams, whose last big-league appearance was as an Angel on June 12, 1995.

Catcher Jim Leyritz had three hits and an RBI, and Murray and Grebeck each added two hits and an RBI, with Murray tying Willie Mays for seventh on the all-time RBI list with 1,903.

"It was nice to finally blow someone out, take the game away from them early, make them play catch-up," Anderson said. "We haven't done that this year."

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