Five straight series against NL West teams started well for Mike Scioscia’s club, as they swept the Rockies and took two of three from the Dodgers. The Angels skipper looks like he has finally found his solution for the two-spot in the lineup.
The Angels have had seven different players start a game batting second. Of the first six to get a crack at it, none had an OPS over .700. Enter Torii Hunter.
BIG GAME HUNTER
It has only been six games since Hunter was placed behind leadoff hitter Mike Trout, but to say he has flourished there would be an understatement. Hunter is 12-for-27 (.444) in those six games with three home runs and a double. Prior to the move up in the batting order he was hitting .238 in 40 games.
Hitting in front of Albert Pujols has resulted in a lot of fastballs for Hunter – 74 of the 115 pitches to be exact (64.3 percent). That represents a seven percentage-point increase in the rate of fastballs seen by Hunter compared to when he hit in the three-through-six slots this season.
TAKING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD
The Angels had a hard time winning on the road at the start of the season, winning just seven of their first 22. Lately they have been extremely comfortable away from Anaheim, scoring five runs per game to win 11 of 12. A big reason for the improvement has been the improved pitching out of the bullpen. In their last 12 road games, the bullpen has a sparkling ERA of 1.27.
Pujols takes a modest eight-game hitting streak into play Friday, but the first seven of those games saw him have two hits in each. That hot streak set a career high for consecutive multi-hit games -- besting a six-game streak Pujols had in 2010. A machine-like 15-for-34 has taken Pujols’ batting average from .236 after the game on June 4 to .264 entering play Friday.
Pujols has been blistering fastballs during his current hitting streak, going 12-for-19. He’s especially enjoying mistakes up in the zone.
HAREN FACES FORMER TEAM
Dan Haren will face the Diamondbacks for the first time since being traded by Arizona to the Angels for Joe Saunders and three minor leaguers. He made the All-Star team in each of his two full seasons in Arizona.
The Angels righty picked up a win his last time out despite lasting just 5 1/3 innings. He gave up a career-high tying four home runs -- slightly excusable since it was at Coors Field.
Three current Diamondbacks have faced Haren at least 15 times. Aaron Hill is 6-for-19 with three extra-base hits, Lyle Overbay is 5-for-15 with two extra-base hits and Jason Kubel is 4-for-15 with a home run and a double.