Is everyone else making Pujols better?

June, 12, 2012
6/12/12
12:03
AM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Not long ago, Don Mattingly wouldn't have had to think about it. The go-ahead run was on second in the ninth inning and Albert Pujols was coming up. Just hold up four fingers and watch Kenley Jansen lob the ball a few feet outside four times.

In one more hopeful sign in this Angels' resurgence, however, Mattingly didn't elect to walk Pujols -- not because the Angels' slugger is struggling, but because so many other parts of the Angels' offense are clicking. Essentially, Mattingly said after the game, it was pick your poison.

Coming up after Pujols was Mark Trumbo, batting .325 with menacing power. On second was Mike Trout, who has been spreading havoc on bases all around the country for weeks.

Getting pitched to in that situation is not what Pujols is used to, but he's rolling with it. He cracked his bat and hit the winning single to left-center field to send the Angels to a 3-2 win at Dodger Stadium. Afterward, he said Trout and Trumbo and the Angels' other young players are energizing this team's move, not to mention its mood.

When the Angels got Pujols, people said he would make everyone else in the lineup better. In a way, it's happened in reverse, Pujols' production catching up to that of the youngsters, Trumbo and Trout.

"I'm really excited that my next 10 years, I'm going to hopefully spend it here with those guys," Pujols said. "They're going to keep me young."

Monday was largely about missed opportunities for both teams. Walks piled up, the bases were constantly being trammeled, but the teams just couldn't bring the action to the plate. The Angels went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, which is slightly better than the Dodgers' 1-for-11.

But as the teams were slogging through nine innings in three hours, 59 minutes, Trout seemed to be the only one playing fast. He got on base three times, stole two bases and, though he homered earlier in the game, his ninth-inning walk may have been his most impressive at-bat of the night. He fell behind 1-and-2 before taking some borderline pitches and getting on base.

"Mike in the batter's box is as advanced as any 20-year old I've ever seen and there aren't many 20-year olds that were in the big leagues to compare him to," manager Mike Scioscia said.

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

BA LEADER
Howie Kendrick
BA HR RBI R
.292 7 71 83
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 34
RBIM. Trout 107
RM. Trout 108
OPSM. Trout .947
WJ. Weaver 17
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOG. Richards 164