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Angels aren't cashing in opportunities

The team is batting .227 with runners in scoring position and striking out 25% of the time.

May 03, 2011|By Kevin Baxter

Reporting from Boston — Only two teams in baseball hit worse with runners in scoring position than the Angels' .242 last year. Yet, five weeks into the this season, things have gotten worse.

After Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox, the Angels are batting .227 with runners on second base or third base, striking out a quarter of the time.

"We need to just take what a pitcher is giving you a little more," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're setting the table, we're just not consistently getting that one or two hits a game in that situation [that] will swing a lot of games our way."

In their last two losses in Boston, the Angels collected 22 hits, but only three have come with a runner in scoring position. Yet, in searching for a positive angle, Scioscia said it's good they're at least getting runners in scoring position

"There's a silver lining: The amount of opportunities we're getting. And that's different from last year," said Scioscia, whose team had 23 at-bats in Boston with a runner at second or third. "Last year, we had trouble setting the table. But there's no doubt we need to do a better job."

Especially in the middle of the lineup. The Angels began Tuesday's game with four regulars — Alberto Callaspo, Hank Conger, Maicer Izturis and Mark Trumbo — batting better than .285 with runners on second or third. But their fourth- and fifth-place hitters, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells, were hitting a combined .181 in the same situation.

"The numbers tell you [everything]," Hunter said. "We just have to be a little more patient. Just try to put a good swing, a good at-bat together. Especially when there's less than two outs."

Dry Wells

Scioscia had at least two closed-door meetings with Wells last month, trying to shake him out of a prolonged slump that has now reached historic proportions.

After striking out twice in three at-bats Tuesday, Wells is hitting .176, the lowest average of his career at this point in a season. His worst previous start came in 2005, when he was hitting .202 on May 3.

And Wells, who also had a walk and a single Tuesday, scoring once, has struck once every five at-bats, putting him well ahead of pace for his first 100-strikeout season.

The envelope, please

In one of the less-suspenseful announcements in recent history, the Angels' Jered Weaver was selected the American League's pitcher of the month for April after going 6-0 with a league-best 0.99 earned-run average and 49 strikeouts in six starts, including one in March.

Teammate Dan Haren (4-1, 1.23 ERA in April) was a finalist for the award.

Closer Jordan Walden (0.73 ERA, four saves) and first baseman Trumbo, who homered Tuesday and leads AL rookies in eight offensive categories, were finalists for the league's monthly rookie award, which went to Seattle's Michael Pineda (4-1, 2.01 ERA).

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