Angels' slugging doesn't stop in 9-3 victory over Rangers

Written By kolimtiga on Rabu, 10 September 2014 | 12.56

The Angels were playing their third game in three days in three cities, a somewhat dizzying array of flights, bus rides and hotels that prompted Manager Mike Scioscia to quip before Tuesday night's game against the Texas Rangers: "Where are we?"

Then the Angels picked up their bats, donned their helmets, stepped into the box and looked right at home.

The scenery changed, from Minnesota's Target Field on Sunday, to Cleveland's Progressive Field on Monday, to Globe Life Park on Tuesday, but the story line — offense explodes in lopsided victory — remained the same.

This time, the outburst was a little late, but when it came it turned a one-run game into a blowout, the Angels scoring seven runs in the eighth inning, six with two outs, en route to a 9-3 victory over the Rangers.

Collin Cowgill started the rally with an infield single, scoring on Mike Trout's triple, and he capped it with a three-run triple to right field, as the Angels maintained an eight-game lead over Oakland in the American League West and reduced their magic number to clinch their first division title since 2009 to 11.

It marked the third consecutive game in which the Angels scored six runs or more in an inning. They did that once before in franchise history, July 27-29, 2007.

The Angels, who have won six games in a row, 12 of 14 and 21 of their last 28 games to improve their major league-best record to 89-55, scored 35 runs in their last three games and 55 runs along with 79 hits, including nine home runs, in their last six games.

"It's been really impressive," said leadoff batter Kole Calhoun, who hit the third pitch of the game over the right-field wall for his 15th home run. "We've had some really big innings. It seems like all game, we were just kind of waiting for that big hit. Then Trout gets the triple, and we really roll from there."

Right-hander Colby Lewis was rocked for 16 runs and 23 hits in 8 1/3 innings of his last two starts against the Angels, but he held them to three runs — two earned — and five hits in seven innings Tuesday night.

But the Angels torched Roman Mendez and Robbie Ross for three runs each in the eighth, which included Erick Aybar's two-run double and Gordon Beckham's based-loaded walk.

"We're obviously not going to score this many runs every night, but I think the threat should be there," Scioscia said. "We have more guys who are comfortable in the box right now, and we're able to keep innings going."

Imagine how potent they would be if cleanup batter Josh Hamilton was in the middle of it all, slugging the way he can.

The Angels played their fifth consecutive game without Hamilton, who has tightness and discomfort in the back of his right shoulder, and Scioscia acknowledged a growing concern about the left fielder's lack of improvement.

"When you're in a pennant race, guys are out there playing banged up, so for Josh to not be able to play, you know he's hurting," Scioscia said. "At first blush, it doesn't look like it's going in the right direction. He still looked a little stiff today. So naturally, you're concerned."

Hamilton, who showed signs of emerging from a brutal mid-August slump by hitting .345 (10 for 29) with two home runs and nine runs batted in during a nine-game stretch Aug. 20-28, took some swings in the batting cage Tuesday but was unable to hit on the field before the game.

The Angels haven't missed a beat offensively without Hamilton, who is batting .263 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs in 88 games, but they will be an even more dangerous playoff team if he hits close to his capabilities.

Asked whether Hamilton would return during this three-game series in Texas, Scioscia said, "We just don't know."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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