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HELENE ELLIOTT

Angels take a firm step in the right direction

Comeback victory over Texas could start the club on its way to a serious push for the postseason.

July 20, 2011|Helene Elliott
  • Angels right fielder Torii Hunter, center, and center fielder Mike Trout, right, celebrate with their teammates following their 9-8 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Angels right fielder Torii Hunter, center, and center fielder Mike Trout,… (Gary A. Vasquez / U.S. Presswire )

Could this have been the turning point, the game the Angels will look back at and say that's where their comeback began?

Could their 9-8 rally past the Texas Rangers on Wednesday at Angel Stadium be the start of something bigger than them all?

"Ask me in November," Manager Mike Scioscia said, after his team overcame an 8-3 deficit on the strength of a six-run push in the sixth inning and ended Texas' winning streak at 12 games.

"Hopefully, we'll be talking about it. But we have a long way to go."

It took them a long time to fall behind the Rangers in the American League West and it will take a long time to erase a deficit that stands at four with one game left in this series, to be played Thursday in Anaheim.

But for those seeking encouragement, there were reasons for optimism in Torii Hunter's third-inning home run — his first hit after going 0 for 18 since the All-Star break — and a three-hit, four-RBI game by Howie Kendrick.

Scioscia pointed to a couple of good at-bats by Hunter after the home run and that's how the Angels will approach this: one at-bat, one moment at a time, hoping the little moments become big ones.

They had been outscored, 20-4, in losing their previous three games, and ended up needing every one of those nine runs Wednesday after Dan Haren was tagged for nine hits and seven runs in 41/3 innings.

"It was jut one of those days. The offense picked us up," he said. "I had a lot of good games in the past. They picked me up today and we won the game and that's the bottom line.

"I left a few balls over the plate. They have a very good lineup, so you've got to limit your mistakes. I made a few mistakes tonight. "

Not so many, though, that the Angels couldn't come back.

They could make this very interesting if they turn this performance into a springboard, not an exception in a season when runs have been at a premium for them.

Vernon Wells had only one of the Angels' hits, a first-inning single, though he walked and scored the winning run in the sixth. If he can get going, the Angels might be able to push Texas hard every day, not just once on a soft summer night.

"When I'm playing the game I'm capable of playing, I can help this team win in many different ways," Wells said. "That's the biggest thing. When you try to do too much sometimes in this game it gets worse. We've got to produce up and down this lineup. And score some runs for our pitching, which has done a great job all year."

After a terrible start Wells revived in June, batting .276 for the month after recovering from a groin injury that put him on the disabled list, but that didn't last long. He's only three for 18 since the All-Star break.

That's bad enough. But by an obvious gauge — the $86 million on his contract through 2014 — the trade that brought him to Anaheim from Toronto looks monumentally bad.

"I'm never going to live up to it. It's not possible," Wells said. "So it's just go out and play and have a good time and try to win some games. That's the important thing now. I've never been able to play in the postseason and that's why I came here, to have a chance of doing that."

They'd have a better chance to close the gap if they get consistent contributions from Wells. And have a few more nights like they did Wednesday.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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