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ANGELS FYI

Angel Stadium has yielded fewest homers this season

In 16 games at Angel Stadium through Sunday, the Angels and their opponents have combined to hit 13 home runs. In games on the road, the Angels and opponents have combined for 47 homers.

May 09, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos leaps with his glove above the wall but cannot reach a home run hit by Cleveland outfielder Grady Sizemore in the fifth inning Saturday at Angel Stadium.
Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos leaps with his glove above the wall… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu both were so shocked at the numbers they grabbed a notebook out of a reporter's hand to see for themselves.

In 16 home games through Sunday, the Angels and their opponents combined to hit 13 home runs, six by the Angels. In 19 games on the road, the Angels and their opponents combined to hit 47 home runs, 25 by the Angels.

"What?" Hunter said, when told of the power splits. "This year? Time out. Time out."

Abreu thought it was a joke.

"You're kidding, right?" he said.

Nope. Angel Stadium has never been known as a hitter's park, but it has been especially stingy the first six weeks of this season, yielding the fewest homers of baseball's 30 stadiums.

"You know why, right? It's the marine layer," Hunter said. "The ball does not fly at night. In day games, when the weather heats up, the ball flies out here."

Angels pitcher Dan Haren noticed that when he pitched for Oakland from 2005-2007.

"You get the marine layer rolling in, and you can even see a difference from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.," Haren said. "It carries well during batting practice. The sun goes down, and it doesn't carry. But as a visiting player, you never wanted to pitch a day game here."

The Angels have played five day games this season, but only three homers have been hit in those games. Unseasonably cool weather could be a factor — the temperature has been 65 degrees or lower for four of the five games.

"I see opposing players go back to the dugout and fire their helmets because they thought they hit home runs and the balls were caught," Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said.

"After the All-Star break, when it starts warming up, you'll see more homers. But we're not going to see too many with all of our 5-foot-2 guys."

Home runs are down across the board in baseball, which many contribute to better pitching — "There are a lot of power arms, and these guys all throw cutters and sinkers," Hatcher said — and stiffer penalties for performance-enhancing drug use.

But Angel Stadium hasn't always been this hostile toward homers. The stadium ranked 19th in the major leagues with 137 homers in 2010 but was seventh with 194 homers in 2009.

"We have a long way to go," Abreu said. "We're going to start hitting more home runs."

Hack attack

Erick Aybar struggled in the leadoff spot last season, hitting .253 with a .306 on-base percentage, in part because of injuries but also because he was too tentative at the plate.

This season, the Angels shortstop has gone back to his attacking style — he had three walks in 21 games entering Monday — and it has worked regardless of where he hits in the lineup.

Aybar entered Monday with a .356 average, which would lead the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. The switch-hitter missed 14 games in April because of a strained left rib-cage muscle.

From April 21 through Sunday, Aybar was 26 for 71 (.366) with four doubles and eight runs in 17 games. He hit leadoff in nine of those games, including Sunday, when his two-run double in the eighth snapped a 4-4 tie in a 6-5 win over Cleveland.

"I'm not trying to be too patient and take too many pitches," Aybar said. "I see the ball, I swing. That's helped me. I'll try to take pitches in certain situations, but Sunday I got one right down the middle [on the second pitch] and swung."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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