Angels flash power potential with 5 HRs
Production throughout lineup offers hope of breakout
ANAHEIM -- The home runs came from everywhere -- from the stellar (Mike Trout), from the solid (Kole Calhoun), from the surging (Albert Pujols and Matt Joyce), from the surprising (Carlos Perez) -- but it probably makes the most sense to start with the last Angel to hit one Saturday night.
That was Pujols, whose three-run gong reverberated deep into the night and sent the Angels toward an 8-6 win over the Tigers at Angel Stadium, their third straight to open the series. The arcing blast gave the Angels a season-high five home runs in the game, and a 7-1 lead, in the second inning, the last big blow in a balanced onslaught.
"It was good to see tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Good to see the five home runs. And, obviously, we're not gonna get that every night, but the contributions top to bottom were there, and I think that's important."
Pujols' shot knocked out Detroit starter Shane Greene, who gave up all five while only recording five outs in the shortest start of his career. No Major League pitcher has given up so many homers, and recorded so few outs, in at least the last 100 years, according to baseball-reference.com.
Yes, Greene was grooving the ball -- each of the five home runs came off a fastball right down Broadway -- but that didn't change the relevance of those home runs to the underwhelming narrative of the Angels' 2015 offense so far, and the new narrative they want it to become.
"It's reflective of the offensive team we have to be," Scioscia said. "We need top to bottom contributing and pressuring teams on a nightly basis. We haven't seen that often enough."
They saw it Saturday night, and Pujols' might have been the best sign -- he's homered in all three games of the series, and is getting the results he expected would come when he was hitting the so-called hardest .230 of his career. That average is at .250, with Pujols on a tear -- he's batting .391 (9-for-23) on the Angels' current homestand.
But there was also the homer to dead center field by Trout that opened the scoring, the latest addition to the reigning American League MVP's 2015 campaign. There was also the solo shot by Calhoun two batters later, another contribution by one of the Angels' few consistent bats in an up-and-down season.
There was the Angels' third home run, too, Joyce's drive left of center. Joyce started the seasong struggling mightily -- with just one home run in his first 40 games -- but looks like he might be turning things around, like Pujols, after going yard three times in his last four games.
And there was even a big fly from catcher Carlos Perez, just his second of the season -- the type of bonus from a lower-third hitter that can be crucial for successful teams.
So even if five home runs in a game are an exception, there was a glimpse of what the Angels think they can be.
"We have a lot of guys who can do different things throughout the lineup. I think we have a good solid lineup, and I don't think we've necessarily put up the numbers we should have so far," Joyce said.
"The stats will be there at the end."