Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton misses a fly ball in the eighth inning of… (Larry W. Smith / EPA )
First baseman Albert Pujols and shortstop Erick Aybar are Gold Glove winners, Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout are Gold Glove-caliber outfielders, and third baseman Alberto Callaspo and second baseman Howie Kendrick are usually dependable if not flashy in the field.
So how is it the Angels began Monday's game with a major league-high 53 errors, including 18 in their last 13 games, and a .980 fielding percentage, worst in the American League?
"We depend a lot on our defense, and we really feel it's an asset, not only the range, but the dependability," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It hasn't shown up the way we need it."
The Angels are capable of solid defense. In 22 games May 8-30, they committed seven errors. But they've committed errors in 10 straight games, proving defense, like offense, can go into slumps.
Kendrick leads the team with eight errors, but they are spread evenly through the season, and unlike Callaspo and Aybar, who have been on the disabled list, Kendrick has started every game.
Aybar bobbled Kendrys Morales' second-inning grounder Monday night for his eighth error. Callaspo committed six of his seven errors in seven games June 2-9. Right fielder Josh Hamilton has five errors. Backup catcher Hank Conger committed three of his four errors against Houston on May 7.
The Angels, through Sunday, gave up 21 unearned runs, tied with Cleveland for sixth-most in the AL. Compounding matters, the Angels have allowed 60 stolen bases, most in the AL, and have caught 11 runners trying to steal.
According to Fangraphs, the Angels rank last in the AL with -51 defensive runs saved, meaning they've given up 51 runs more than an average defensive team.
"These guys are good defensive players," Scioscia said. "We've definitely hit some bumps in the road."
Clearing the air
Hamilton planned to seek out Scioscia during batting practice Monday to discuss what appeared to be a misunderstanding between the two Sunday, when Hamilton was not summoned to pinch-hit during a five-run ninth-inning rally against the New York Yankees.
The manager, however, did not think that was necessary.
"Every player knows if it comes to a situation where it's the 13th or 14th inning, you can never really guarantee someone a day off, but Josh knew we were going to stay away from him," Scioscia said. "Josh needed a day, physically and mentally."
Hamilton began Monday with a .213 average, nine home runs and 22 runs batted in. He was also hitting .155 against left-handers, so with CC Sabathia starting Sunday, it was a good day to sit Hamilton.
But Hamilton spent 40 minutes in the batting cage during the game and was "a little bit" disappointed to be bypassed in the ninth by J.B. Shuck, who drew a pinch-hit walk, and Brad Hawpe, who had a pinch-hit single.
"When you have a down day that means you get ready for the eighth or ninth inning — that's standard," said Hamilton, who started Monday night. "I was a little surprised."