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Monday, May 30, 2011
Angels 10, Royals 8: Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

The Angels are showing plenty of fight, and surprisingly robust at-bats. They defeated the Kansas City Royals 10-8 at Kauffman Stadium Monday after falling behind 6-1 after two innings. Three days earlier, they had overcome a 5-0 deficit to beat Minnesota.

The Good:

Redemption. Torii Hunter's first two at-bats couldn't have been much worse. He grounded into yet another double play (his 14th) and then struck out with a runner in scoring position. After that, things couldn't have gone much better: He smacked an RBI single and homered twice (including the game-winner). Hunter picked up his 1,000th RBI along the way. It's important to have their top run producer back in the producer's seat.

Bobby socks. In a small sample, no Angels hitter has been quite this hot this season. Bobby Abreu had base hits in five consecutive at-bats, longest streak of the season for the Angels. He also had eight hits in his last eight at-bats (along with two walks) in Kansas City. Clearly, he likes to hit at Kauffman Stadium. Pretty impressive. He also drove in two runs, the aspect of his game that has been missed.

Power supply. Except for some good young pitchers in the league, Mark Trumbo might have clear sailing for the Rookie of the Year award. He mashed his 10th home run, easily leading the Angels, and he leads all rookies in the big offensive categories. If he gets to 30 homers and close to 100 RBIs he might be the Angels first ROY since Tim Salmon 18 years earlier.

The Bad:

Empty swings. Thus far, it's easier to see why the Arizona Diamondbacks released him than why the Angels picked him up. Russell Branyan has one hit with the Angels in 16 at-bats, it was a single and he has struck out seven times. They'll give him a little more time to find his timing, but he'll have to pick up the pace to stay on the roster when Howie Kendrick returns.

Reverting. Ervin Santana had been on a nice roll, having allowed just one run in his previous 18 innings before the first inning blew up on him. Or, is that blew out on him? The Royals launched two first-inning home runs on a day the wind was blowing out. Santana, overall, has been slightly disappointing this season.

Simplifying. Angels manager Mike Scioscia spoke with rookie catcher Hank Conger the day before about "getting simple," and not thinking too much about making adjustments. There was a good sign -- Conger launched a deep double to right field. But overall, it's been a brutal stretch for Conger, who has just five hits in his last 12 games, a span of 39 at-bats.