The Angels broke out the bats in a big way in their recent sweep of the Rangers, and manager Mike Scioscia hopes it’s a sign of things to come in LA.
When the Los Angeles Angels started a three-game series on Friday night against their American League West rivals, the Texas Rangers, at Globe Life Park, they must have had no idea of what was to come.
The Halos, who had gone 6-3 on their just-concluded homestand, were an abysmal 7-for-75 with runners in scoring position during that run of games against the Astros, Mariners and Yankees at Angel Stadium.
LA also scored just 24 runs over those nine games, holding a run differential of minus-5, making the fact they won six of nine impressive. So, the Angel offense had nowhere to go but up in the Lone Star State, right? Exactly.
And they did that and then some.
Not only did the Halos sweep the Rangers over the weekend, but they outscored their AL West bunkmates 33-8 over those three games. Seeing his offense, one which has been top heavy with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols being one-two in the AL in home runs but not getting consistent production from anyone else, find their groove over the weekend was a big plus for Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
“Yeah, we broke out this series no doubt,” Scioscia said after Sunday’s 12-6 win. “The thing I take away from the series is really how well we pitched against a team that they’re going to swing it. They [Texas] got some guys in the lineup who can really swing it if you miss your spots and I thought we pitched them really well this series, gave us a chance and our offense blossomed.”
While scoring 33 runs in three games is quite an accomplishment by itself, another big number jumps out from this series. The Halos were an impressive 20-for-45 (.440), with runners in scoring position, a drastic turn the other way from how little they executed in such situations during their homestand.
Scioscia acknowledged that has been an issue for big parts of the season to date – issues he hopes are now a thing of the past.
“For some stretches this year we’ve struggled with situational hitting. We did a good job this series moving runners or with guys in scoring position getting some base hits. It was a good offensive series for us in just about every category,” Scioscia said.
And most fans who didn’t see any of the series would naturally think Pujols and/or Trout led the way offensively, but that wasn’t exactly the case. Combined, the Halos’ Dynamic Duo was 6-for-24 with five runs scored and five RBI. No, the Angels were led at the dish by a somewhat unlikely cast of characters.
CJ Cron led the way with eight hits in the series, including going 3-for-4 with a career-high six RBI in the 13-0 win on Saturday, July 4, and following that up with a 4-for-5 performance, equaling another career high, with two runs scored and an RBI in Sunday’s finale.
Naturally, Scioscia was quite happy to see Cron, who recently returned from the disabled list, continue his feast on Ranger pitching. With his 8-for-14 showing over the weekend, Cron is now hitting .433 in 18 career games against the Rangers, including an OPS of 1.128 and a .701 slugging percentage.
“I hope so [that his performance is a hint of things to come],” Scioscia said of Cron. “[He’s] much more comfortable in the batter’s box now than at any point during the season. Good day for him again [on Sunday].”
However, it wasn’t just Cron doing the heavy lifting. Shortstop Erick Aybar went 6-for-13 in the series, including a 5-for-5 night in the series opener. Aybar also scored five runs and, along with Cole Calhoun, led the Halos with 10 RBI.
Calhoun also went 6-for-13 with 10 RBI, including a four-RBI night on Friday.
Also chipping in for the Angels was noted Ranger nemesis David Freese, who heard a smattering of boos on Friday night and throughout the weekend since he is the one who hit the ball over the head of former Ranger right fielder Nelson Cruz in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, tying the game for St. Louis and forcing extra innings.
Freese was 5-for-12 with six runs scored and four RBI. He scored three times in Saturday’s shutout.
The Angels jumped on Ranger pitching throughout the series, a fact evidenced by Texas pitchers throwing 556 pitches in the series, compared to just 406 by the Halos.
Such an offensive explosion was encouraging for their longtime manager to see and of course, it’s a trend he hopes will continue as the Angels continue their nine-game road trip on Tuesday night against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
“We’re still controlling the game on the defensive end with good pitching and making plays. That has to remain,” Scioscia said. “As our bats have blossomed, we’re turning some good pitching performances into wins and we have to keep that going.”
For a team whose offense has sputtered for much of the season, seeing his boys break out the whooping sticks in Arlington was a good sign for Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia. But like every skipper, he always wants more; namely, consistency.
And if the Halos can continue mashing against the Rockies and then the Seattle Mariners to close out the first half in truly strong fashion, then maybe, just maybe, all that talk of them being offensively deficient might die down a bit.