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Angels power way to another win over Yankees

Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo homer, Mike Trout has run-scoring triple and Dan Haren pitches another gem in 5-1 victory, their eighth straight. Angels climb over .500 for first time since opening day.

May 29, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna

It's as if someone spiked the water cooler on the Angels bench with massive amounts of Red Bull and a case of 5-hour Energy shots.

Or maybe it's just an injection of youth in the form of 20-year-old, five-tool speedster Mike Trout.

Whatever it is, a team that sleepwalked its way through a lackluster April looks refreshed and rejuvenated in May. Some would even say resuscitated after the Angels went 8-15 and fell nine games back in the American League West in that first month.

Now look at them, crashing into walls to make spectacular catches, diving to stop grounders, mashing balls way beyond outfield walls, dashing around the bases and getting shut-down starting pitching and relief.

The Angels beat the New York Yankees, 5-1, on Tuesday night to extend their win streak to eight, close to within 51/2 games of the Texas Rangers in the division and push their record (26-25) over .500 for the first time since they beat Kansas City in the April 6 season opener.

Dan Haren (3-5) threw his second straight gem, allowing one run and eight hits, striking out seven and walking none on the heels of his four-hit, 14-strikeout, no-walk, 126-pitch win at Seattle on Thursday.

But there was so much more to this Angels effort. Albert Pujols hit a two-run home run, his eighth of the season and seventh in 14 games, in the third inning and singled and scored on Howie Kendrick's RBI single in the eighth.

Mark Trumbo hit his third homer in three days and ninth of the season, a prodigious 443-foot shot into the rock-pile beyond the center-field wall in the sixth, and Trout got things started in the third, following Peter Bourjos' single with an RBI triple to left.

"When you're not swinging the bat, you're going to look dead, and we probably looked dead for about a month," Manager Mike Scioscia said after the Angels' 11th win in 15 games. "It's tough to create energy when you're not getting on base, moving runners and getting into your game.

"Conversely, we've been doing a better job of getting on base, driving the ball better, putting guys in motion. Life is just a byproduct of swinging the bat better and doing some things on the offensive side."

There was just as much energy on defense. Trout made two superb plays, racing toward the gap in the second and leaping to rob Nick Swisher of a homer before slamming face-first into the wall and diving in the gap to catch Curtis Granderson's sinking liner with two on in the ninth.

Peter Bourjos made a long run to the gap in right-center to rob Swisher of extra bases before running into the wall in the seventh, and shortstop Erick Aybar opened the game with a diving stop of Derek Jeter's grounder, after which he threw to first — from one knee — in time for the out.

"The defense was unbelievable withTorii [Hunter] in right field and those two young guys," Haren said, alluding to Trout and Bourjos. "It's crazy when the ball goes up and you can see them close ground. Those plays change innings and change games around."

Trout has been a game-changer since he was promoted from triple-A and inserted into the leadoff spot on April 28, batting .336 in May with nine multi-hit games, 12 extra-base hits and 12 walks.

The Angels' on-base percentage from the leadoff spot before Trout was .250. Trout has a .368 OBP. The Angels' record before Trout arrived was 6-14. They are 20-11 since. "I'm not going to compare him to Bryce Harper, but I can't imagine anyone being more skilled at that age," Haren said of Trout. "He can do it all. Coming up at first, he was a little bit cocky, a confident kid, but he has really changed for the better. He handles his business in the clubhouse, off the field. He's just a great kid.

"He's taking his success in stride. He's not walking around acting like a big shot. He was one of the best prospects in the game. Now he's one of the best outfielders in the game. It's going to be fun to watch him."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

twitter.com/MikeDiGiovanna

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