Five things to take from Angels’ 4-1 victory over Diamondbacks

Huston Street

Huston Street/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels

 

– This was a big victory in as much as had the Angels lost, they would have fallen under the .500 mark and would have been 5 1/2 games behind front-running Houston in the AL West. With the win, the Angels are 33-32 and still 4 1/2 games out ahead of Wednesday’s games.

– This was the first game with the new batting order that saw Albert Pujols bat cleanup for the first time since 2010. Mike Trout, typically a No. 2 hitter, was moved to third with previous cleanup hitter Kole Calhoun batting second. The results were mixed. The Angels did not get a leadoff batter on the entire game. Calhoun went 0-for-4, Trout 1-for-3 with a single and walk and Pujols 1-for-3 with a 2-run home run.

– Left-fielder Matt Joyce was back in the lineup after being benched for two days. He’s still struggling. Joyce went 0-for-2 and was replaced by Daniel Robertson, who went 1-for-2. Joyce is now batting .181.

– Perhaps the best news from this game was the second consecutive solid outing by starting and winning pitcher Garrett Richards. He tossed seven innings and allowed just four hits and one unearned run while striking out four and walking three. After having his ERA rise to 4.14 after getting ripped in New York for six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning on June 6, Richards’ ERA is down to 3.59. He’s 7-4 and leads the staff in wins.

Huston Street picked up his 20th save in 22 opportunities. Street blew saves May 6 against Seattle and May 7 against Houston. In the latter game, he gave up three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. His ERA was 3.86 at that point, not good for a closer. He since has converted 11 save opportunities in succession and lowered his ERA to 2.33.

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Five things to take from Angels’ 6-2 victory over Tampa Bay

Garrett Richards

Garrett Richards/Photo courtesy of Los Angels Angels

 

Albert Pujols’ 17th home run of the season tied him for the team lead with Mike Trout, who also homered in this one. For Pujols, it was No. 537 for his career and moved him into 16th-place all-time; he had been tied with Mickey Mantle. Next up for Pujols is Mike Schmidt, who is No. 15 with 548.

Kyle Kubitza’s game-tying RBI single in the seventh inning ignited a three-run inning that allowed the Angels to take a 4-2 lead. That Kubitza’s clutch hit came the day after a mixed-results major-league debut was a sign that he has the wherewithal to get past the bad things that happen.

– When you don’t play a lot, you can raise your batting average in a hurry. Such was the case with Efren Navarro, who had three hits in this game to raise his average from .227 to .308.

– Nice outing by Garrett Richards. Much-needed, too, as he had seen his ERA rise from 3.12 to 4.14 over his previous two starts. Richards allowed just two runs on four hits in seven innings in this one while striking out seven and walking just one. He lowered his ERA to 3.97 in the process while earning his team-high sixth victory against four defeats.

– The Angels may only be 30-30, but this victory helped them gain a half game on idle first-place Houston and a full game on second-place Texas. The Angels are now only 3 1/2 games behind the Astros and just a game behind the Rangers.

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Albert Pujols moving up the ranks of other important lists

A lot has been made of Albert Pujols recently passing Jimmie Foxx on the all-time home run list and then tying Mickey Mantle. Pujols and Mantle each have 536 career home runs and are tied for 16th-place all-time.

However, Pujols, 35, has also moved into elite territory for RBIs and extra base hits. Prior to Thursday’s game at Tampa Bay, Pujols had 1,633 RBIs, which put him 30th all-time, just three behind No. 29 Ernie Banks (1,636).

Pujols is 15th all-time in extra base hits with 1,121, just one behind No. 14 Manny Ramirez (1,122) and 10 behind No. 13 Tris Speaker (1,131).

As for home runs, it will take a bit of time for Pujols to reach the next rung as Mike Schmidt hit 548. But since Pujols already has 16 this season, there is a good chance he’ll get there in 2015.

One other interesting note, Pujols is one stolen base shy of becoming just the fourth player all time to have at least 500 home runs, a lifetime .300 batting average and 100 stolen bases. The others are Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

No offense to Pujols, but at 35 and one of the slowest runners on the team, he may never reach that milestone.

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