Angels first baseman Albert Pujols advances to third base on a flyout by… (Ed Zurga / Getty Images )
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It's a little benefit of a win streak the Angels pushed to six with a 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals in Kauffman Stadium on Friday night, but it's definitely one they've noticed. The veil of negativity that hovered over the club for the first seven weeks of the season seems to have finally lifted.
"All the questions we got at the beginning of the year — When is this team going to turn it around? What's it going to take? What's it going to look like? — hopefully, some of those have been answered," first baseman Mark Trumbo said. "These last six games are a good indication of what we can do."
The Angels got another gem of a start from a rotation that has fashioned a 1.93 earned-run average during the streak, this one from left-hander Jason Vargas, who gave up two runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings and is 4-1 with a 2.42 ERA in his last seven starts.
BOX SCORE: Angels 5, Kansas City 2
They got a score-tying home run from Chris Iannetta in the sixth — the Angels have 32 homers this month — two clutch hits during a three-run seventh and shutdown relief from Garrett Richards, who got the last five outs.
"Of all the components we've talked about, I think the starting pitching is very important," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "If we stay close and give our offense a chance, we're going to do some of the things like we did tonight. The way we've played this last week is much more in line with the team we projected."
The first six innings were filled with frustration for the Angels, who had one hit in their first nine at-bats with runners in scoring position, grounded into two double plays — bringing their major league-leading total to 52 — and failed to execute a suicide squeeze in the sixth.
But they rallied in the seventh, which featured a smart dash by hobbled slugger Albert Pujols and a huge break in the form of a missed call.
Mike Trout, who has 10 hits in his last 17 at-bats, led off with a walk and stole second, though replays showed he was out. Pujols walked, and Trumbo, who stranded five runners in his first three at-bats — strikeout, double play, strikeout — singled to left-center to score Trout for a 3-2 lead.
"Those fourth and fifth at-bats, you have a chance of doing some damage," Trumbo said. "You can't mentally shut it down because you had three crappy at-bats. I just said, 'Keep it going, keep it going,' because I might have a chance to do something special."
Josh Hamilton flied to deep left-center, but Pujols, despite a sore left heel and right knee, tagged and reached third. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain's throw went to second, too late to get Trumbo.
That put Pujols in position to score on Howie Kendrick's sacrifice fly and Trumbo in position to score easily on Alberto Callaspo's double to left.
"That was good baserunning," Scioscia said. "Albert read Cain's momentum going toward the track, and he knew he could make third. Cain made the right play going to second, but Mark got a great jump. Albert is banged up, but he's going out there and giving everything he has."