By Pete Zarustica/Garden Grove Journal/with wire service reports
Imagine, for a moment, politicians being civil to each other, pro athletes offering to play for free, and freeways sparse and free-flowing.
A world turned upside-down? A break in the natural order of things? Well, that’s how it’s been for fans of the Los Angeles Angels to watch their team struggling near the bottom of the American League West.
But with a burst of powerful hitting, abetted by good pitching, the Halos won nine of 10 games, including six in a row, to jump into first place in the ALW after a 4-2 win over the Oakland A’s.
The win put them a half-game ahead of the Texas Rangers and one and-a-half ahead of the A’s.
“I think it means a lot,” said Scott Kazmir, who got the win. “It feels good to be back in first place. We want to stay there.”
Not as impressed was manager Mike Sciscoia. “It has no bearing,” he said. “It’s way too early to consider standings. We need to keep bringing the things we’ve done to win games in this little stretch.”
Indeed, on Tuesday, the streak came to a jarring end as the A’s snapped the skein at six with a 10-1 hammering of the Angels.
The game was close until the home Athletics exploded for seven runs in the last two innings. They outhit the Angels 18-8.
Maicer Izturis was the only regular with a good night at bat, collecting two hits. The recently hot Matsui was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
The loss dropped the Angels into second place in the AL West, a half-game behind Texas and a half-game ahead of Oakland.
The series with the A’s in Oakland continued Wednesday night (results too late for our schedule) and finish today (Thursday).
Five interleague series start on Friday: the first opponent will be the Dodgers in Los Angeles through Sunday. Then it’s back in Anaheim for three games (Monday through Wednesday) hosting the Milwaukee Brewers.
After that, the Angels hit the road to visit the Cubs for three in Chicago, June 18-20.
During the streak that pushed them back in contention for a division title that fans have come to expect, the Halos took two of three from the Mariners in Anaheim, three of four from the Royals in Kansas City and then swept three in Seattle.
“We’ve been going pretty good for a little bit now,” said Mike Napoli after garnering four hits – including a two-run home run – in Sunday’s 9-4 win over the M’s. “We’re clicking pretty well as an offense and it’s what we needed.”
Indeed. Over the past week (through Monday’s game) the Angels batted .297, led by a comebacking Hideki Matsui (.481, two homers, six RBIs) and Torii Hunter (.357, two homers, 10 RBIs).
The pitching staff did its share, too, posting a 2.90 earned run average and allowing opponents to bat only .255. Kazmir was the star of the week, giving up just two earned runs in 12 innings, picking up a pair of wins and sporting a 1.50 ERA.
Jered Weaver was impressive, too, going seven strong innings in his one start, giving up just four hits and no runs.