Angels hitters return a favor

May, 10, 2011
5/10/11
10:38
PM PT
Joel Pineiro always pitches to contact these days. That's his thing. He's a sinkerball guy.

But it's just a tad easier to do that -- to let it go and hope it ends up in somebody's glove -- when your teammates rush out and hand you a 5-1 lead by the time you jog out for the fourth inning.

"They came out aggressive, they came out swinging the bats from the first inning on," Pineiro said after pitching into the eighth inning of the Angels' 6-2 win over the Chicago White Sox Tuesday. "Sometimes, that plays into my game. Early-count outs, you keep the pitch count low. Sometimes, they're going to hit it right at people."

For one of the few times this year, an Angels pitcher could thank an Angels hitter for making his life easier. Mostly, it's been the other way around. Rarely have Angels pitchers gotten to work with a safety net this wide and soft.

It's been a weird season for the Angels' offense, which leads the American League with a .271 batting average and yet somehow is sixth in runs scored. Scoring at their home ballpark has been particularly challenging, with the team scraping across an average of 2.7 runs per game entering Tuesday.

Especially in the last 10 days or so, you can see semblances of offensive chemistry poking up here and there. With the big-name players -- Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Kendrys Morales -- largely struggling or simply not around, it's been smaller guys driving the bus. Guys like Maicer Izturis, Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo, the three amigos of short, switch-hitting middle-infielder types.

Guys like Howie Kendrick, who made his professional debut in left field Tuesday, managed to avoid embarrassment in the field (catching the one fly ball hit to him) and smacking a pair of doubles.

"We've got a lot of youth in that lineup, with some guys playing out of psition but I think on the offensive side we're going to be able to do what we need to do," manager Mike Scioscia said.

If he's right, there is a roomful of pitchers at Angel Stadium hoping their lives could soon get just a little bit easier.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jered Weaver
WINS ERA SO IP
17 3.50 157 200
OTHER LEADERS
BAH. Kendrick .292
HRM. Trout 34
RBIM. Trout 107
RM. Trout 108
OPSM. Trout .947
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOG. Richards 164