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No June gloom for Angels when Tommy Hanson pitches

Veteran right-hander makes it three in a row for Angels, who continue a roll with a 6-2 win over the Yankees after losing nine of 11 previous games.

June 15, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels starting pitcher Tommy Hanson went 6 1/3 innings against the Yankees on Saturday, striking out a season high eight.
Angels starting pitcher Tommy Hanson went 6 1/3 innings against the Yankees… (Mark J. Terrill / AP )

Maybe it's the warm weather. Or the extra-long days.

Or maybe, as Tommy Hanson says, the Angel pitcher's success in June is as inexplicable as it has been unnoticed.

"I had no clue," said Hanson, who was unaware he hasn't lost a June game since 2010, a streak he unwittingly kept alive Saturday by pitching the Angels to a 6-2 win over the New York Yankees.

"I think after the first couple of months you kind of get locked in," said Hanson, who gave up two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out a season-best eight batters. "I feel more consistent the more I throw."

For the Angels, on a roll after having lost nine of their previous 11, the win was their third in as many games. For the Yankees, the loss was their fifth in a row, matching a season high.

But both those numbers pale in comparison to the kind of streaking Hanson has done in June, going 10-0 with a 2.78 ERA over the last three seasons. And this year he came into a month needing a pick-me-up after spending nearly three weeks on bereavement leave following the death of his stepbrother.

"This is the most confident I've felt all year," said Hanson (4-2), who is working on another unusual streak, having beaten the Yankees three times in as many career starts against them, something only two other pitchers have done in the last 20 years.

"Obviously I needed a little time to deal with what I was dealing with. But I feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things and getting back into a rhythm."

The Angels haven't always been generous in support of Hanson, averaging just 2.33 runs a game behind him in his last six starts. But that wasn't a problem Saturday, with four players getting two or more hits and four either scoring twice or driving in two runs.

"A lot of guys are really swinging the bat well," said Howie Kendrick, who had multiple hits for the fourth time in as many games, going three for three with a walk and an RBI. "It's a different guy every day."

Lately it's been mostly Kendrick and Albert Pujols, though, with Kendrick's three hits giving him a league-leading 24 in June, while Pujols, with eight hits in his last three games, is working on a season-long six-game hitting streak.

Erick Aybar also had two hits, including a home run; Peter Bourjos had two hits and scored twice; and Mike Trout drew three walks in a game for the first time in his career, also stealing a base and scoring twice.

Combine all that with Hanson's effort and the eight consecutive batters retired by three Angels relievers and Manager Mike Scioscia says his team is playing the way he envisioned it would in spring training.

"These last two games, when you put the defensive side of the game in there and you factor in what a great job our bullpen has done, that's the template," he said. "We just need to keep executing."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

twitter.com/kbaxter11

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