April 14-20: Angels Drop Four of Six to Playoff Contenders


Apr 19, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) walks back to the dugout after striking out in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 8-10, 3rd in AL West (1-2 vs. A’s, 1-2 vs. Tigers last week)

Highlights: The once abhorrent bullpen is starting to turn things around. Fernando Salas, Michael Kohn, Kevin Jepsen, and Jose Alvarez combined to toss ten shutout innings, and Yoslan Herrera only allowed one earned run in his four innings of work.

Mike Trout’s game-tying home run last Tuesday was the on the second career shot in the ninth inning and led to extra innings. The Angels lost but showed grit unapparent in the first two weeks of 2014. Trout stole bases on April 15 and April 18-his first of the season- and contributed to high-scoring affairs, the latter an 11-6 victory over Detroit.

Lowlights: It’s hard to take anything from losses to championship-caliber teams. Four of the last six games were decided by one run; three were Angels losses. Leading the league in home runs (29) and extra-base hits (67) only does so much for a team when they can’t hit in the clutch.

Twenty-one men were left on base in losses to Oakland and Detroit. Going 9-for34 in that span, the Halos raised their batting average to a still underwhelming .206 with RISP. Sunday’s game was the epitome of the team’s woes when they made a season-high four errors, three coming on one play. The mistakes could have been overlooked were it not for a 1-for-7 day at the plate with runners on base.

Player of the week: Albert Pujols inches closer to the 500 home run milestone, hitting three last week while improving his slash line to .280/.349/.587.There’s something about Comerica Park that brings out the power in Pujols.

He went 4-for-11 in the weekend series with four RBIs and four extra-base hits. Seventeen games in the motor city have yielded six homers, 14 runs and 15 RBIs. “The Machine’s” .448 batting average is his highest in any major league ballpark.

Injury report: Two-third of the Angels’ starting outfield is sidelined. Days after Josh Hamilton went under the knife to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, Kole Calhoun received similar news about his twisted right ankle. The Angels’ starting right fielder was moved to the 15-day DL after he sprained a ligament running to first base last Tuesday. Like Hamilton, Calhoun expects to miss 6-8 weeks.

Just a day after being called up from Triple-A Salt Lake, Dane De La Rosa was optioned back down last weekend. The Angels’ cited concerns over his velocity. In his lone appearance, De La Rosa allowed two runs and a walk in less than an inning of work.

Up next:  The Angels make their first trip to our nation’s capital since 2008. They play a three-game series with the Washington Nationals before heading to the Bronx for a weekend series with the New York Yankees. As if Yankee Stadium didn’t have enough of a legacy, it may be the sport of Pujols’ 500th home run.