Outfielder Mike Trout and the Angels are off to a slow start at the plate this… (Christine Cotter / Associated…)
CINCINNATI -- The Angels will look to make better contact and to get the top and the middle of their batting order going Thursday when they close a three-game interleague series against the Cincinnati Reds in Great American Ball Park.
Leadoff man Mike Trout is hitting .182 (2 for 11) with four strikeouts and no walks in the first two games, and the three-four tandem of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton has combined to go 0 for 15 with five strikeouts.
As a team, the Angels have struck out 27 times in two games. The only other team in history with 27 or more strikeouts through two games? The Houston Astros this week, when they had 28 after two games and 43 through three.
“We’ve faced a couple of guys who have good stuff, and we haven’t attacked the ball as consistently as I think we will,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “There are some strikeouts throughout our lineup, but there’s also a boost in power. The bottom line is scoring runs. Once we get into our flow, we’ll be able to able to absorb maybe a little higher strikeout total while still being productive.”
Pujols is starting again at first base, a bit of a surprise considering the Angels are playing a day game (12:35 p.m. EDT) after a night game and the slugger has been limping slightly because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
Pujols said after Wednesday night’s game that his surgically repaired right knee is fine, and that his foot is actually giving him more problems. Scioscia said Pujols would probably start at designated hitter once or twice this weekend when the Angels are in Texas.
“What you’re seeing is something he and our medical staff believe is manageable,” Scioscia said. “That little limp is really coming from the problem in his foot. His knee feels strong. He’s still mobile enough to bring that presence to first base, and he needs to be in lineup to get his at-bats and get locked in.”
The Angels lineup: CF Mike Trout, SS Erick Aybar, 1B Albert Pujols, RF Josh Hamilton, LF Mark Trumbo, 2B Howie Kendrick, 3B Alberto Callaspo, C Hank Conger, P Joe Blanton.
The Reds lineup: CF Shin-Soo Choo, LF Chris Heisey, 1B Joey Votto, 2B Brandon Phillips, RF Jay Bruce, 3B Todd Frazier, SS Zack Cozart, C Ryan Hanigan, P Bronson Arroyo.
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