With a modest seven-game hit streak, it appears Albert Pujols is starting to return to form. His teammates are looking like they're back in the groove as well.
After another strong night at the plate, the Angels seek their fourth win in five games and fifth in a row over the injury-plagued San Diego Padres on Saturday night.Pujols is batting .321 (9 for 28) with two homers and seven RBIs during his hit streak, but he's not alone in picking up the pace. Los Angeles (18-22) is hitting .293 over the last six games after batting .245 over its first 34 this season and had 11 hits during a 7-2 victory Friday.Leadoff batter Mike Trout had three of those hits, and Erick Aybar provided a late two-run double. Mark Trumbo also extended his hit streak to a career high-tying nine games with an RBI double.Trumbo has batted .531 (17 for 32) during that run and raised his average to .365. He and the Angels will get to face Eric Stults, who will make his official return to the National League after being claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.The left-hander made a combined 24 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2006-09, going 8-9 with a 4.39 ERA, and six relief appearances last season for Colorado. He did not get a decision in his only start this season May 7 in Cleveland despite allowing two runs and four hits over six innings.Stults is being pressed into service after scheduled starter Tim Stauffer was placed on the disabled list Friday for a sprained right elbow.San Diego (14-26) had already lost a combined 275 games to injury heading into this interleague series. The additions of Stauffer and outfielder James Darnell gave the team 12 players on the DL."I would speculate this is by far the most (injuries) I've seen at any one time so early in the season," manager Bud Black told the team's website. "It's a roster challenge for (general manager Josh Byrnes), because you're seeing new guys come in and out of the organization."When they face the short-handed the Padres again, the Angels will try to give better support to a struggling Dan Haren (1-4, 4.41).The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA in three starts this month after going 1-1 with a 3.34 ERA in his first five this season. He gave up four runs over six innings to Oakland on Monday and got no runs from his teammates in a 5-0 defeat.That loss marked the eighth time Los Angeles was shut out this season, but it's responded by producing a combined 19 runs over the last four games.Haren is 5-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts against the Padres but was tagged for six runs over five innings during a 12-1 loss for Arizona on July 16, 2010, at Petco.Stults has never pitched against the Angels but did face them as a pinch-hitter and struck out during a 6-0 win for the Dodgers on June 27, 2008.
Dan Haren is 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 48 strikeouts in his career pitching at Petco Park. Of all of the current Padres he has faced in his career, Haren has allowed no walks and struck out 33 in 111 at-bats.