ANAHEIM -- The Angels had things right where they wanted them -- National League teams in their stadium -- and they they took advantage to put their season back on track. The Angels beat the Dodgers 5-3 Sunday to take both series they played against their northern neighbors.
The Angels will bid a fond farewell to a seemingly endless stretch of games played at -- or near -- home. Starting Tuesday, the Angels are back in the American League portion of their schedule, embarking on a nine-game road trip to Baltimore, Toronto and Cleveland. They had played 21 of the previous 24 games in Southern California.
The Angels went 12-6 vs. the NL this season and have the best interleague record in the majors, 74-34, since 2007.
Peter can. It's been a tough year for Peter Bourjos, one of the Angels' stalwarts last year relegated to the bench by the arrival of Mike Trout. Sunday, Bourjos got a rare start and made a good argument for more playing time. He got robbed of an RBI double when the umpire incorrectly ruled his fly down the right-field line was foul, but responded by pounding a two-run home run to left. He also later doubled on a chopper over the third baseman. It was some rare hitting success for an outfielder who has played flawless defense in 53 games.
Swift swimmer. Not that Bourjos can really complain. Trout forces himself into the action like few young players ever have. He has been on base more than any player in the American League since May 1 and he got on three more times Sunday. He also gave Albert Pujols an easy RBI chance by singling and promptly stealing second base in the fifth. Pujols dribbled one up the middle and, voila, the Angels had a lead. Trout has reached in 21 of his 24 stolen-base attempts.
Solid statement. Sunday was Garrett Richards' worst start since his late-May promotion and it qualified as a quality start. That tells you how solid he's been filling in for two injured veterans. It was a laborious afternoon for Richards, who gave up nine hits, but he got a couple of key double plays and worked deep into the seventh inning. He has a 1.63 ERA after four starts, which would appear to be enough to keep his spot in the rotation. We'll see.
Extra effort. One of the impressive things about Albert Pujols at this stage of his career is how hard he tries at aspects other than his hitting. It can at times be to his detriment, however. Saturday he gave up an easy out and tried to get Dee Gordon at third, making a costly error. Sunday he tried to take an extra base on strong-armed Juan Rivera and was out at third, replays confirmed. Playing aggressively and with passion is admirable, but only if it's tempered with a little more savvy. Mike Scioscia got ejected making Pujols' argument with Dan Iassogna.
Meanwhile... Iassogna got his call right. The other umpires had an awful day. Howie Kendrick made a brilliant diving stop of Adam Kennedy's grounder and threw to first in time to get the out, but umpire Bill Miller called him safe. Worse was the call on Bourjos' ball that sent up a small cloud of dust when it hit the chalk. Second-base ump Dale Scott also gave Erick Aybar the benefit of the doubt on a "phantom" tag on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s stolen base attempt. The infielders, apparently, weren't the only ones having trouble in the bright conditions.
Still soft. Kendrys Morales blooped a single to left and later scored a run after he was hit by a pitch, but he had a tough homestand and doesn't really look like a middle-of-the-order hitter right now. It seems reasonable to drop Morales down in the lineup until he gets his bat going again, especially now that Howie Kendrick has heated up and Mark Trumbo has continued to produce. Morales batted .172 with 12 strikeouts in 29 at-bats this homestand.