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Angels manage to sneak past Twins, 6-5

Erick Aybar drives in three runs and Mark Trumbo hits a home run to help the club climb to one game over .500.

May 29, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels shortstop Erick Aybar connects for a two-run triple with two outs in the third inning against the Twins on Sunday in Minneapolis.
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar connects for a two-run triple with two outs… (Genevieve Ross / Associated…)

Reporting from Minneapolis

Perhaps the best way to describe baseball is to say it's a game of averages. And a third of the way into the season that may also be the best way to describe the Angels — average.

After holding on for a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, the Angels are a game above .500, leaving them on pace for fewer than 83 wins this season. And though that left the team only a game out of first place in the American League West, no one has won the division with fewer than 84 victories in a non-strike year, and only four times has the division champion won fewer than 90 games.

"This team has to get better," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're not the finished product. And we're all comfortable we will get better as the season moves on. In some areas the way we've played baseball in this first third of the season is far short of what we need to do.

"And there's some things that are working very well."

Pitching is one of the things that have worked well, though it was erratic at both ends Sunday. Starter Dan Haren (5-3) won for the first time in more than a month despite giving up a season-high 10 hits in six innings. And closer Jordan Walden staggered through a 37-pitch ninth inning, giving up two runs before getting the final out with the winning run on first base.

Offensively, however, the Angels remain as mediocre as their record. Sunday they got a two-run triple in the third inning from Erick Aybar — their only active .300 hitter, who finished with three hits and three runs batted in — and a long ninth-inning home run from rookie Mark Trumbo that proved to be the deciding run.

But they didn't get much in between.

"It's where we are right now," Scioscia said.

Aybar's third-inning hit drove in the first runs the Angels scored against a starting pitcher in the series. And it was only the second time in their last six road games that they scored against a starter.

But if that's the bad news, here's the good: Howie Kendrick, the team's leading hitter at .322, figures to come off the disabled list next week. Vernon Wells, who began swinging a bat again last weekend, shouldn't be far behind.

And despite their recent skid — Sunday's victory, over the worst team in baseball, gave the Angels only their second series win in three weeks — if you turned around fewer than half the Angels' 13 one-run losses, they'd have the best record in the league.

"It would be nice to get, like, two games over .500," Haren said. "It seems like we get one game over and then back to .500 and then a game under.

"This division is just a mess right now."

But the standings don't mean anything until the final day of the season, as Scioscia likes to point out.

"Standings are just a report card," he said. "We went through a stretch these last 20 games [where] we haven't been playing good baseball. That has to be our focus.

"We have a long way to get to be where we want to be."

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