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Angels hit some snags in second game and lose to Royals, 6-3

Powerhouse offense remains largely silent, baserunning is spotty, and starting pitcher Dan Haren is shaky. Add it all up, and Angels are a .500 team. Of course, there are still 160 games to go . . .

April 07, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna

Two games into the most highly anticipated season in franchise history, it's obvious the Angels have some kinks to work out, though none involve the swing of Kendrys Morales, who had four hits Saturday in only his second game back from a devastating ankle injury.

The Angels haven't cranked up the volume of their highly touted offense, and they've looked a little disoriented on the basepaths. Mix in a shaky start by right-hander Dan Haren on Saturday, and it's no wonder they lost to the Kansas City Royals, 6-3, in Angel Stadium.

"What do we have, 160 games to go?" right fielder Torii Hunter said. "We can't panic yet. It's all going to come together."

The Angels have a lineup Manager Mike Scioscia believes can pressure opponents all game, but they've scored in only three of 17 innings against the Royals, sending the minimum three batters to the plate in 10 of those frames.

Aggressive and effective baserunning has been a trademark of Scioscia-led clubs, but the Angels had runners picked off first in each of their first two games, and Howie Kendrick was doubled off second on a soft liner Friday night.

Albert Pujols ran through third-base coach Dino Ebel's stop sign and was thrown out at the plate Saturday, and Morales, confused over whether he should tag from third or go halfway to home on Hunter's flare to right in the seventh, failed to score when the ball dropped for a single.

"Guys might be a little anxious out there, and some might be trying to force a couple of things," Scioscia said. "Guys are trying to get their sea legs under them, and at times they've been a little aggressive."

Pujols, who grounded into a double play to end the first, got his first hit as an Angel when he doubled to left in the fourth. Morales singled to left, but Pujols didn't pick up Ebel's stop sign in time to apply the brakes and was thrown out by left fielder Alex Gordon.

"Albert got a great secondary lead and felt he could score, and he put his head down as Dino put his hands up," Scioscia said. "There's going to be a comfort level between Dino and Albert, because Albert has a tendency to drop his head when he has a feel for a play."

Ebel spoke to Pujols afterward and will adjust his positioning for the slugger.

"I want to put myself in a better spot so when he's coming around the bag, he can look up and know where I'm going to be," Ebel said. "That's it. It's him and I getting together, getting it right. I'll be in the right spot, and we'll go from there."

Location was also an issue for Haren, who was tagged for five runs and 11 hits in 51/3 innings, giving up four straight singles during a two-run first and solo home runs to Eric Hosmer in the fifth and Mike Moustakas in the sixth.

"I left too many balls up and over the plate, and that was a recipe for disaster," Haren said. "I never really got into a rhythm. I never caught my breath. But my season was not going to be defined by my first game, whether it was a no-hitter or a day like today. It's all how you bounce back."

Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar blanked the Angels on three hits through six innings and departed after Morales and Hunter singled in the seventh. Bobby Abreu's run-scoring double and Vernon Wells' RBI groundout made it 5-2, but reliever Tim Collins struck out Alberto Callaspo looking to end the inning.

The Angels made some noise off closer Jonathan Broxton in the ninth when Morales doubled and Hunter bunted for a single, but Abreu hit a sacrifice fly, and Wells grounded into a game-ending double play.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

twitter.com/MikeDiGiovanna

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