April 28-May 4: Angels Reach .500 for First Time Since 2013
May 4, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) is on the ground after getting hit in the helmet by a pitch from Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish (not pictured) in the 5h inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Left is Texas Rangers catcher J.P. Arencibia (7). Puljos was on the ground for a short time but trotted to 1st base. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Record: 15-15 (3-0 vs. Indians, 1-2 vs. Rangers last week)
Highlights: A three-game sweep of Cleveland gave the Angels their first winning record since Opening Day 2013. Much of that success can be attributed to a steadily improving bullpen. As a whole the pitching staff is allowing a .230 opponent batting average, second only to Oakland in the American League.
Excluding Kevin Jepsen, Angels relievers have pitched 16 1/3 shutout inning over the last seven days. Fernando Salas, who came over in the Peter Bourjos–David Freese trade, threw four scoreless innings while allowing only one hit and earned two holds.
Switching closing duties between Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri has paid off. Smith got three saves on the home stand, yielding only two hits. Frieri pitched 1 2/3 innings and struck out two, lowering his ERA to 6.57.
Lowlights: The Angels drop to 6-9 in division play after losing two out of three to the Rangers over the weekend. The only AL West series they’ve won was against Houston during opening week.
Hector Santiago fell to 0-5 after allowing five runs over six innings Friday. The Angels’ offense didn’t do much to help Santiago, leaving nine men on base in the 5-2 loss.
Tyler Skaggs didn’t make it out of the second inning Sunday afternoon as he gave up six runs in Texas’ 14-3 victory. Aside from Erick Aybar and Albert Pujols’ first-inning homers, the Angels couldn’t get to Yu Darvish. They left seven men on and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Player of the week: Aybar had two multi-hit games this week including a 4-for-5 day against the Indians April 29. He is batting .346 over the last week and raised his overall average to .281.
Aybar, who has played in all but one game this year, hit his second home run in Sunday’s loss to Texas. While Aybar isn’t known for his run production he earned five RBIs over the past week and drove in crucial runs in last Tuesday’s 6-3 win over Cleveland.
Injury report: Freese was placed on the 15-day DL last Saturday after being diagnosed with a fracture of his right middle finger. A Colby Lewis pitch ran in on Freese the night before, grazing his throwing hand. The third baseman is batting .202/.266/.286 with two home runs in his first season as a Halo.
Pujols is listed as day-to-day after getting beaned in the head by a Darvish fastball Sunday. He remained in the game after trainers checked on him.
Josh Hamilton continues to rehab in Arizona, five weeks after surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. He is still wearing a splint and hasn’t been cleared to swing a bat.
Up next: Derek Jeter’s farewell tour makes a stop in Anaheim beginning tonight. The Halos make their only visit to Toronto before beginning a two-game set with the Phillies.