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Calhoun rewards Wilson's gritty effort with victory

Rookie on tear, drives in winner; starter wins eighth straight decision

TORONTO -- Kole Calhoun, listed at a very generous 5-foot-10, may not look the part of a traditional run producer.

But since coming up to the Angels, he's been an RBI machine.

Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- Kole Calhoun, listed at a very generous 5-foot-10, may not look the part of a traditional run producer.

But since coming up to the Angels, he's been an RBI machine.

Full Game Coverage

During Wednesday night's 5-4 win over the Blue Jays, the Angels' redheaded spark plug drove in a couple of runs, including the game-winning one, via two sacrifice flies. Calhoun has now driven in a run in 14 of his last 15 starts -- the first player in Angels history to do so -- and leads all Major League rookies with 25 RBIs since being called up on July 28.

"Overall, he's one of those guys that the sum is greater than the parts," said C.J. Wilson, who got the win thanks to Calhoun's eighth-inning sac fly. "If you look at him on paper, he's not one of those guys like [Mike] Trout who's going to wow you. It's not like he's 6-3, 240 [pounds]. But he's got great strike-zone discipline, he uses the whole field, he has an incredible arm, he runs really good routes in the outfield -- he just plays baseball really well.

"If we had more guys like him, we'd be better off, because he brings every single freckle and every inch to the batter's box and to the outfield every at-bat, every game."

The Angels are better off now, at least. They won for the 14th time in their last 19 games Wednesday, while clinching their sixth straight unbeaten series, and are seeing several positive signs as the curtain closes on 2013. One is Josh Hamilton, who went 3-for-3 with a walk and an important double to put his batting average at .357 over his last 30 games and a season-high .247 for the season. Another is a red-hot Mark Trumbo, who hit a mammoth two-run homer in the second inning against R.A. Dickey, his career-best 33rd on the year and his fourth in his last six games.

But one who's been there all year, albeit somewhat quietly, is the veteran left-hander who's in his second season in Anaheim and removed from offseason elbow surgery to remove bone spurs.

As he often does, Wilson battled an escalating pitch count and had some difficulties throwing strikes at an enclosed Rogers Centre. But as he often does, he found a way to persevere and set himself up for a win. He gave up three runs in the first -- two the result of an errant throw by shortstop Erick Aybar -- and still got through seven, giving up four runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks to win his eighth straight decision.

He's now 16-6 with a 3.44 ERA and has reached the 30-start threshold for a fourth straight year.

"He's having a terrific season," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think that of all the things that we've talked about this year that maybe haven't worked out, C.J.'s on the other side of that ledger. He's having a terrific season, pitching deep into games. He's going to be 200-plus innings again [Wilson is currently at 191], and every stat you look at is terrific for him."

Calhoun's season has only come on lately.

The 25-year-old outfielder looked primed to win a spot on the Angels' bench in Spring Training. But he batted only .174, and the Angels instead chose the slap-hitting approach of J.B. Shuck, relegating Calhoun to the Minors. Then, in his second game of the Pacific Coast League season, he broke the hamate bone on his right hand and missed a month and a half.

"It really changed my whole game," Calhoun said. "I had to kind of find myself again. And you know what, it's been found."

From May 18 to July 25, Calhoun batted .354 with 12 homers in 58 games for Triple-A Salt Lake. Then he got called up on July 28. Shortly after that, he started playing a lot. And since then, he's been a spark for an Angels team that's finishing a disappointing season on a high note, with a .303 batting average, six homers and 25 RBIs in 32 starts.

Not bad for a guy who's actually 5-foot-9 in cleats.

"He's super, super locked in," Wilson said. "He's just got great focus. And he's a fun guy. He's one of those guys that if you know him at all, you have to root for him, because he's one of the best guys I've ever been around, attitude-wise."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Kole Calhoun, Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo, C.J. Wilson