The honeymoon apparently is over in Anaheim, where the Angels made new manager Marcel Lachemann look like a magician for a couple of weeks. Now, the club is in free fall, entering yesterday's victory over the almost-as-hapless Milwaukee Brewers in the throes of a six-game losing streak. It doesn't figure to get much better, especially after left-hander Mark Langston experienced renewed elbow soreness Friday in his first start since returning from surgery and .406-hitting Rex Hudler was forced onto the disabled list when Lachemann accidentally tripped him with a fungo bat. The Angels are eight games under .500, but will need to run off another long losing streak to be considered anything but a strong contender in the AL West. . . . The Texas Rangers appear to be coming out of it, thanks in large part to Jose Canseco's rebirth as one of the most feared hitters in baseball. Just ask the Boston Red Sox, who watched him go 10-for-13 with four home runs and 10 RBIs during a three-game Rangers sweep at Fenway Park. Canseco is hitting .307 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs. . . . Randy Johnson has thrown three straight shutouts and 27 consecutive scoreless innings. Now for the bad news. The three shutouts were the only games the struggling Seattle Mariners won during a 10-game stretch that began with a 1-0 Johnson victory over the Oakland Athletics May 25.
Nobody figured the Cleveland Indians for a pushover this year, but nobody -- especially in Chicago -- figured that the Tribe would get much out of aging Jack Morris, either. Morris has won four straight decisions, and the Indians are right behind the favored White Sox in the very competitive AL Central. If veterans such as Morris, Eddie Murray and Dennis Martinez can put it together for a couple of months, the Indians just might end their 40-year postseason drought. . . . The juiced ball-theory is alive and well in Detroit, where the Minnesota Twins scored 21 runs in Saturday's game. Is the ball wound tighter this year, or are the elbows on the Tigers' pitching staff just wound a little looser? Probably a combination of both. . . . The Kansas City Royals got a big performance from former Oriole Bob Milacki Friday night to begin their three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium. Milacki pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on seven hits.
The struggling Orioles needed some help this weekend -- just to remain within a respectable distance of the division-leading Yankees and second-place Red Sox -- and they got it. They lost two of three to the Chicago White Sox and gained ground on their two top divisional rivals because the Yankees and Red Sox were swept at home. The Yankees dropped three tight games to the Royals and have lost four straight. The Red Sox got their hats handed to them by the Rangers, who scored 33 runs in three games. Boston starters gave up 16 earned runs in 16 innings (9.00 ERA). . . . AL East teams gave up an average of seven runs over the past three days. . . . Worst best division update: The usually overpowering AL East was a combined 12-20 last week. The division-leading Braves shook off a May slump to re-establish themselves as the pre-eminent team in the National League, but even their current six-game winning streak could not shake them free of the bothersome Montreal Expos, who are getting contributions from every corner of the roster. Even the seemingly forgotten Moose -- Randy Milligan -- got into the act over the weekend, delivering a pinch homer to beat the Cubs. . . . Don't give up on the New York Mets yet. They continue to hang around .500, and it looks as if they might be ready to piece together a respectable starting rotation. Dwight Gooden, on the disabled list with an injured toe, pitched well in a rehabilitation start at Norfolk last week, and Bret Saberhagen shook off a sore back with eight strong innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday. The city of Cincinnati is giving Marge Schott the opportunity to buy Riverfront Stadium, so it may be only a matter of time before St. Bernards are allowed to smoke anywhere they want in the ballpark. . . . The Houston Astros have fallen in behind veteran pitcher Doug Drabek and climbed to the top of the standings. Drabek has won eight of his past nine decisions, including a five-hitter Saturday. The Astros have won eight of their past 10 to overtake the Reds.
It took only a look at the NL West standings yesterday morning to get a sense of the anarchy created by realignment. To qualify as the hottest team in the division, the Colorado Rockies had to win one game in the previous three days, and the West has been so unpredictable that it is possible to envision a second-year expansion team in the playoffs.