Thursday, June 7, 2012
Ahhhh, interleague play
By Mark Saxon
The Angels' pattern in recent seasons has been to flounder around at about .500 for a few months, get into June and take off. In their wake, they leave behind a trail of flattened National League teams.
The Angels have the best record in the majors in interleague play since 2007, going 63-30. They have won nine of their last 10 series against National League teams. And this year, they have Albert Pujols, who won three MVP awards in the NL.
Just getting into more familiar environments -- Coors Field and Dodger Stadium -- might help ignite Pujols. Batting .244 with eight home runs, he's off to the worst start of his career, though the past three weeks have been easily his best of the season.
"I guess it's good to see guys you've faced before, but I don't know who we're facing in Colorado, probably somebody I haven't faced before," Pujols said. "I don't look at it like that. There's not any advantage or disadvantage. Guys are trying to get you out and your job is to try to make adjustments."
The Angels are scheduled to face Alex White and Christian Friedrich this weekend. Just as he suspected, Pujols has yet to face either one. The Rockies still haven't named their starter for Saturday's game. But after Sunday, the Angels still have 12 consecutive games against the National League.
Another asset the Angels have going for them this year is a couple of pitchers who can -- relatively speaking -- swing the bat. Dan Haren was among the best-hitting pitchers in baseball when he was in Arizona and C.J. Wilson had designs on making a career as an outfielder when he was at Loyola Marymount.
Haren, who is 6-5 with a 3.69 ERA in his career against Colorado, said he loves the National League game and not just because he gets to hit.
"I think it really keeps a pitcher in the game," Haren said. "There's more strategy with the pitching, in terms of pitching around guys, there's a lot more bunting, playing for one run."
Playing for one run -- as in, trying to avoid getting shut out -- is something the Angels did a lot earlier this year. So, maybe that's one more thing they have going for them in this stretch.