Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos is congratulated by teammates after… (Brandon Wade / Associated…)
Peter Bourjos has been the Angels' hottest hitter for two weeks, but even with leadoff batter Maicer Izturis sidelined by a hamstring injury, Manager Mike Scioscia has resisted the temptation to move the speedy center fielder to the top of the order on a regular basis.
Bourjos, on a 17-for-40 streak (.425) that raised his average from .222 on April 16 to .318 entering Friday's game at Tampa Bay, has led off five times this season but hit eighth the past two games. He has hit ninth 14 times.
Bourjos, who has two home runs, four triples and five doubles, has three months of big league experience, and Scioscia does not want to overburden the 24-year-old with the demands of the leadoff spot.
Plus, Bourjos, who hit .204 in 51 games after his promotion to the big leagues last Aug. 3, is not among the Angels' most patient hitters. He averages 3.67 pitches per plate appearance.
Erick Aybar led off Wednesday for the third time in four games. Izturis, who is batting .333 with a .379 on-base percentage and eight runs, should be ready to start again Friday.
"Peter has the potential to hit first or second, but there's a lot more going on in the one-two spots than the eight-nine spots," Scioscia said. "It's something I think Peter will grow into, but we have some pretty good options with Aybar and Izturis."
Bourjos tied a single-game club record with two triples in Tuesday night's 8-3 win over the Oakland Athletics. One was to right center, and one was to left center. Neither required a slide into third.
Did Scioscia, the former Dodgers catcher who was never known for his speed, ever have a stand-up triple?
"I had one in Philadelphia," he said. "[Former Phillies center fielder] Garry Maddox twisted his ankle in the gap, and the third baseman had to go out and get the ball."
Oh, what a relief it is
Though closer Jordan Walden gave up his first earned run of the season Wednesday in a 2-1, 10-inning loss to Oakland, the Angels' bullpen continues to shine.
Since giving up 11 earned runs and 21 hits, including six home runs and 15 walks in 181/3 innings (5.40 earned-run average) of the first five games, relievers have given up 10 earned runs and 34 hits in 561/3 innings of the last 20 games for a 1.60 ERA.
Fernando Rodney has given up no runs and two hits in 81/3 innings of his last eight games; Rich Thompson has a 2.70 ERA in eight games; and Francisco Rodriguez has pitched well since his April 10 recall, with a 3.38 ERA in seven games. Relievers have stranded 19 of 23 inherited runners this season.
"That's a huge stat, along with first-hitter effectiveness, keeping us in games and holding leads," Scioscia said. "The amount of guys we walked in the [season-opening] Kansas City series was frightening.
"Some guys made adjustments. [Demoted relievers Kevin] Jepsen and Michael Kohn are working on stuff at triple A. The guys who are here are making pitches."
Cy Young talk
It's too early to speculate about Jered Weaver winning the Cy Young Award, but the right-hander with a 6-0 record and 0.99 ERA has history working in his favor.
Before this season, six of the last seven pitchers who started 6-0 with an ERA below 1.00 after six starts went on to win the Cy Young Award.
They are the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, Boston's Roger Clemens in 1991, Montreal's Pedro Martinez in 1997, Arizona's Randy Johnson in 2000, Cleveland's Cliff Lee in 2008 and Kansas City's Zack Greinke in 2009.
The only pitcher who did not go on to win the award after such a start was Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez last season.