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Friday, September 2, 2011
Living and dying with the long ball

By Mark Saxon

For a team that talks a lot about base running and situational hitting, the Angels are awfully dependent on the home run.

In August and the first two days of September, the Angels slugged 38 home runs. Only three teams in the American League -- the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays -- have hit more out of the park in that timeframe. It helped the Angels' offense finally take off. They averaged 4.9 runs per game in August despite batting just .264.

The link is fairly hard to miss -- the Angels' only runs Thursday in Seattle came via the long ball -- but it's also not something they can plan on. Those other three teams have been powerful all season. The Angels hit 38 home runs in May and June combined. Overall, the Angels rank ninth in the AL in home runs.

Howie Kendrick's season sums up the Angels' streakiness in the power department. Of his 15 home runs, six came in the first three weeks of the season and seven have come in the last two weeks.

"For a while, we weren't hitting home runs at all. We have the potential to drive the ball more than we did last year," manager Mike Scioscia said.

Here are lineups for Friday night's game against the Minnesota Twins:

Minnesota

1. Ben Revere CF

2. Trevor Plouffe SS

3. Joe Mauer 1B

4. Michael Cuddyer RF

5. Jason Kubel DH

6. Danny Valencia 3B

7. Rene Tosoni LF

8. Tsuyoshi Nishioka 2B

9. Drew Butera C

Angels

1. Erick Aybar SS

2. Howie Kendrick 2B

3. Bobby Abreu DH

4. Torii Hunter RF

5. Mark Trumbo 1B

6. Alberto Callaspo 3B

7. Vernon Wells LF

8. Peter Bourjos CF

9. Hank Conger