After putting together a three-game home winning streak against the last-place Minnesota Twins and embracing the euphoria of a no-hitter by Jered Weaver, the Angels were brought back to a blunt reality that not everything is all right, particularly with their prize off-season acquisition, Albert Pujols.
On Thursday night, Pujols' homerless streak reached 104 at-bats, one short of equaling the longest single-season drought of his 12-year career. He was 0 for 3 in a 5-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium, dropping his batting average to .202 with five RBIs after 26 games.
Each at-bat resulted in a ground ball to third baseman Brett Lawrie. Pujols, though, expressed confidence that things will change. He said he is hitting the ball hard, just at people.
"If you break down my at-bats, look at how many balls I've hit hard," he said. "They haven't found a hole. There's nothing I can do but just laugh. If I continue to do that, sooner or later, in the next 500 at-bats, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get my hits, and it's going to go my way. This is a game of take and give. I'm in that side it's not going my way right now."
The Angels (10-16) managed only three hits against Brandon Morrow (3-1), two by Mike Trout. Morrow retired 14 consecutive batters between the fourth and eighth innings and finished with eight strikeouts and no walks.
Pujols, a nine-time All-Star stuck on 445 career home runs, has been trying about anything to wake up his bat. Dating to last season with the St. Louis Cardinals, he has gone 32 games and 135 at-bats without a home run, the longest of his career.
"Frustrated — I don't use that word," Pujols said. "This is the big leagues. Every time I come to the clubhouse, I'm proud to wear this uniform. I'm blessed."
Pujols said he understands how to handle the pressures and expectations.
"I come with the same attitude every day and do whatever it takes to win," he said. "If it goes like this the whole year, so be it. I'm pretty sure things are going to turn around the way I want it. It's just a matter of time."
The Blue Jays ended a hitless streak by Angels pitchers of 171/3 innings by scoring three runs in the third inning against Dan Haren (1-2). Lawrie led off the third with a single. Colby Rasmus put down a bunt single. On the first pitch, J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run home run to left.
The lead became 5-0 in the sixth when third baseman Mark Trumbo's errant throw to first went past Pujols for an error, allowing two runs to score.
Relief on the way
The Angels acquired right-hander Ernesto Frieri from the San Diego Padres Thursday in exchange for minor league utility player Alexi Amarista and pitcher Donn Roach.
Frieri, 26, was 3-3 with a 2.33 earned run average in 105 games over the last four seasons, striking out 137 with 56 walks in 108 innings.
Angels relievers entered Thursday's game with an 0-6 record and 5.08 ERA, having blown six of their first seven save opportunities.
Amarista, 23, played 23 games with the Angels in 2011 and was hitting .273 with six doubles and 12 runs batted in for triple-A Salt Lake. Roach, 22, was a third-round pick in 2010 who compiled a 5-0 record and 2.16 ERA in six starts for Class-A Inland Empire this season.
Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.