Pujols' ninth homer leads Halos' Bronx thumping
Fifth-inning drive one of four hit by Angels behind strong Wilson
NEW YORK -- A lineup that's without its table-setter and cleanup hitter has already set a franchise record for home runs in the season's first month, with five April games still remaining. It plated 13 runs on 16 hits on a night when the best player on the planet went hitless. And now Hiroki Kuroda would probably tell you the worst start of his career came against the Angels.
In case you didn't already know, they can score some runs.
"It's not like we have nine callups in the lineup that you've never seen do anything before," Angels starter C.J. Wilson said on Friday, after benefiting from another offensive barrage in a 13-1 rout at Yankee Stadium. "These are all good players."
There's Albert Pujols, whose home run to lead off the fifth gave him a Major League-leading nine on the season -- tied with Brian Downing, in 1986, for the franchise record in April -- and 501 in his career.
There's Erick Aybar, who added a three-run shot in the seventh, his first home run since September of last year, to highlight a 4-for-5 night and make him 11-for-17 in his last four games.
There's Howie Kendrick, who went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and has recorded multihit games in nine of his 13 road games this season.
And, of course, there's Mike Trout, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on a night when his offense didn't even need him.
"We're having a great road trip," Pujols said of a three-city trek in which the Angels have gone 4-3 against the Tigers, Nationals and Yankees, moving to 11-11 on the year. "We're swinging the bat pretty well."
The Angels had just recorded their largest margin of victory and their second-highest run total in the Bronx. They hit four home runs -- courtesy of Pujols, Aybar, Ian Stewart and Collin Cowgill -- to push their total to 35 on the year, the most in the Majors and a franchise record for April. And when Kuroda faced them, he gave up eight runs (six earned) for the first time in 184 career starts and was unable to complete five innings for the first time since last May.
Since being without both Josh Hamilton (left thumb surgery) and Kole Calhoun (right ankle sprain), the Angels have somehow managed to average 5.9 runs in eight games.
"We're hitting the ball out of the park, and that's been pretty consistent," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The offensive part of our club is doing what we need it to do. Hopefully we'll start to match it with what we do on the mound, and particularly the bullpen."
Scioscia announced pregame that the struggling Ernesto Frieri would be temporarily demoted from the closer's role, paving the way for Joe Smith to take over the ninth while Frieri works in low-leverage situations to make some adjustments with his release point.
The offensive output left little need for a closer on Friday, but it did allow Frieri to get a nice confidence boost with a clean eighth inning in an 11-run game.
"I think they're doing it because they want to help me," Frieri said postgame. "They are right. I want to be able to help the team, and right now, the way that I'm pitching, I'm not helping them. They say they want to give me some time off to find myself, to find my confidence. It's really true."
Wilson, meanwhile, pitched six innings of one-run ball and continued to dominate the Yankees.
"I love New York," the left-hander said after an off-day spent playing catch in Central Park.
Wilson has now allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts against the Yankees, a team that entered with eight wins in its last 11 games. For his career at the current Yankee Stadium, Wilson sports a 2.44 ERA.
"I think one of the big things for pitching well here," Wilson said, "is you have to understand what you're getting into. You know that the fans are going to be on top of your case. When you're warming up, they're going to be calling you a bum or whatever. They have a really good lineup, and it's important to get off to a good start."
It was especially important given what the Angels had just endured. Through a 3 1/2-hour train ride to Manhattan, an off-day of stewing and a half-day of prepping, they wore the memory of a crushing loss, courtesy of Frieri's four runs allowed in a walk-off loss at Nationals Park.
Then they beat it out of themselves.
"It was a fun game for us," Wilson said. "After how the last game in Washington went, where we felt like we had a chance to sweep and they kind of stole it from us in the last inning, we really needed that win tonight, to get back on track."