Los Angeles Angels: Barry Zito
June, 19, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols jolted the offense to life with a first-inning home run, Mike Trout continued to run wild and the Angels withstood some sloppy pitching and sloppier defense to beat the San Francisco Giants 12-5 Tuesday night.
The Angels keep digging their way out of the early hole created by a dismal April. Their 19-7 record since May 22 is second in the majors to the New York Yankees.
Big fish, big pond. With an eighth-inning walk, Trout qualified for the batting race and now is second in the AL in hitting (.337) behind Paul Konerko. Maybe now the rest of the country will catch onto what's been going on out west after they fall asleep. Trout, 20, had his second four-hit game this season, has scored 40 runs in 47 games and leads the league in stolen bases. You know Bud Selig would love to see Trout and Bryce Harper both at the All-Star game in Kansas City next month and it looks as if Trout will live up to his side.
Power supply. For some reason, Mike Scioscia continues to defend using Kendrys Morales in the cleanup spot against right-handed pitchers. Odd since Mark Trumbo hits right-handers just as well as lefties and clearly is the most dangerous hitter the Angels can stack behind Pujols. He thought he hit a grand slam in the fourth inning judging by his bat flip. He didn't, but it still netted him three RBIs when Angel Pagan misjudged it and it smacked off the wall for a triple. Later, he had a two-run single. Trumbo has driven in 47 runs this year and looks like an All-Star lock and probable home-run derby participant.
He's back, back, back. If only those first five weeks had never happened, Pujols would be cruising toward another MVP-type season. Who knows, the way he's going, maybe he'll have time to make up for them. Since May 15, he is batting .328 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs. Pujols caught an 82-mph Barry Zito cutter and sent it screaming over the wall in left-center field to jump-start the Angels' offense. He added an RBI single, giving him four RBIs in the first two innings.
Traffic cop. C.J. Wilson was not sharp. To his credit, he got into the seventh inning and walked only one batter, but he also gave up a season-high 10 hits and, for the second start in a row, was in constant trouble. All in all, it's hard to complain about a pitcher who just won his fourth straight decision, but it was Wilson's worst start in more than a month.
Porous infield. For a while, it looked as if the Angels might reach the infield cycle, with all five guys making an error. Wilson's only flub came when he inexplicably kicked Pablo Sandoval's double-play ball, an infield hit. But Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick all took turns making sloppy errors. Lucky for the Angels, Pujols made some highlight-reel plays or it could have been even uglier.
Atrophy. The Angels are 33-17 in games in which Peter Bourjos has appeared in the outfield. You could see why when he flashed into deep right field to take a triple away from Ryan Theriot in the third inning. On the other hand, Bourjos isn't hitting much (He did bunt his way on for a single and line out). Is that because he doesn't play or doesn't he play because he can't hit? Tough call, but the bottom line is he had gotten just two at-bats in the previous four games. It seems as if the Angels are wasting a major asset, but there's nowhere to play him.