ANAHEIM -- Monday night was a slow, sometimes-ugly grind and a far cry from the Angels' explosiveness of recent games. But they kept their momentum rolling along with a 6-3 win over the Kansas City Royals at Angel Stadium. Pinch hitter Kendrys Morales slammed a three-run single off the right-field wall to cap a two-out rally in the eighth inning.
The Angels stayed on top of a crowded wild-card race and remained five games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Stopping power. Peter Bourjos got to the wall and jumped to take away what looked to be a home run from Lorenzo Cain and save two runs. Maicer Izturis practically got knocked over by Jeff Francoeur's sharp grounder, but got up to start a crucial double play. The Angels have premium defense up the middle in excess. They have two center fielders and two shortstops capable of making highlight plays. Their pitchers are lucky in that regard.
Streaking on. Guys who go on long hitting streaks don't just ride hot stretches, they get through nights when they don't feel great at the plate. Monday wasn't the most dynamic night for Mike Trout -- he went 2-for-5 with two singles and no stolen bases -- but it kept alive a couple of streaks. He has hit in 12 straight games and has scored a run in 15 straight games. The run mark extends the new franchise standard and puts him three away from the AL record, held most recently by Kenny Lofton, a pretty good leadoff hitter not so long ago.
Surprise production. The deep lineups in the AL typically fill out the bottom third of their lineup with light-hitting, speedy players or low-average hitters with decent power. The Angels sometimes have an unwieldy look, with Bobby Wilson clogging the bases for Trout, and have gotten scant production from the bottom third. But Monday that bottom third got the winning rally started. Izturis had two clutch hits. He, Wilson and Bourjos were on base five times between them and primed the winning rally with an Izturis hit and Bourjos walk.
Step back. Albert Pujols has been among the most productive hitters in baseball for more than two months, but Monday wasn't a good night for the Angels' No. 3 hitter. He looked off-kilter all evening, picking up his only hit on a pop-up that landed between a couple of outfielders and his only RBI on an awkward chopper to the first baseman. Trout has been the most impressive offensive player, but the Angels do tend to rise and fall on Pujols' performance.
Another step back. A lot of the same things could be said for Mark Trumbo. He walked in the first inning, which was encouraging since his patience had waned in recent games (one walk in 10 days), but he also struck out twice and is 4 for his last 16 with four strikeouts. The Angels have led the majors in home runs over the past month, paced largely by Pujols and Trumbo. Monday the power took a night off, but the Angels found other ways to get a win.
No 'W' in Wilson? It was far from an artful outing by C.J. Wilson. He had bushels of trouble, allowing nine hits in less than seven innings. On the other hand, they were all singles and he was able to grind through most of his difficulties, unlike his previous start in Detroit. Wilson has allowed 17 hits and six walks in his past two starts, so he's not exactly on top of his game. But he was able to take the ball deep enough in the game to give the Angels a good chance. Wilson rattled off five straight wins to get to 9-4 and made the All-Star team, but he hasn't earned a win since June 26.