MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Supporting cast holds key to success for Angels

Offense thriving with contributions from others besides Trout, Pujols

Supporting cast holds key to success for Angels

ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are the center of the Angels' offensive universe. Good as they are, however, they aren't good enough to carry a franchise.

They know it. Manager Mike Scioscia knows it. Heck, everybody in baseball knows it.

This is their fifth season as teammates. They made it to the postseason only once in the first four. The Angels won the American League West title in 2014 before being swept by the Royals in three games in the AL Division Series.

Trout and Pujols have been key figures in helping the injury-plagued Halos to win five of their past six games, including a sweep of the AL West-leading Mariners and then taking two of the first three games in their four-game set vs. the Interleague rival Dodgers.

Trout and Pujols, however, have not been a two-man offense.

Oh, the duo has been good. Trout got everything started at Angel Stadium in an 8-1 victory vs. the Dodgers on Wednesday night with the 39th first-inning home run of his career. He then added two more singles, a walk and two more runs scored.

Pujols had two hits, drove in a run, scored a run, walked twice, and he has a .367 average to show for the six-game surge in which he has had two three-RBI games and Trout has driven in five runs and scored nine runs.

It is, however, what is happening around Trout and Pujols in the Angels' lineup that has provided a reason for hope for the Halos, despite injuries that have put 10 players on the disabled list, including starting shortstop Andrelton Simmons and backup Cliff Pennington, catcher Geovany Soto, the left-field combo of Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava, and five pitchers.

Trout and Pujols are elite players. No arguing that.

Trout won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, the AL MVP Award in '14, and he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner in each of his first four full big league seasons. Pujols was the National League Rookie of the Year Award winner with the Cardinals in '01. He won three NL MVP Awards, and he is a 10-time All-Star -- including last season with the Angels.

Trout's solo home run

Trout and Pujols have not, however, been a one-man or even two-man show in the years their teams have had success. There have been contributions from plenty of others. And that's been the case in the Halos' recent stretch.

"We felt it a little last year," Scioscia admitted. "We can't be a team where it's just Mike and Albert. We have to get contributions from others to accomplish our goals."

Scioscia on Tropeano's start

And that fact has been underscored this season.

Trout and Pujols combined for 55 RBIs in the Angels' first 40 games. The rest of the roster had 98, and 20 of those were from Kole Calhoun, who has hit either second (ahead of Trout and Pujols) or fifth (right behind them). That means the trio has provided 75 RBIs, compared to 78 for the six other spots in the lineup.

In the past couple of days, however, help has arrived. While Trout and Pujols both drove in a run on Wednesday, Calhoun didn't, but C.J. Cron continued a recent surge of his own that has seen him notch 12 RBIs the past 16 games. Cron and rookie Rafael Ortega, who was called up on Tuesday when Nava joined the disabled list, drove in two apiece. Johnny Giavotella and Carlos Perez each had one RBI.

"A lot of guys are getting opportunities," said Trout. "[It's tough] when guys go down. A lot of teams to through it, but we're going through it all at once. We're just trying to get wins. That's all we can do."

Cron's RBI single

Lately, they have done that, and they have done it not only against two teams primed to contend for a postseason berth, but on the road, winning four of five away from Angel Stadium prior to returning home for the victory on Wednesday.

The Halos did it with Pujols setting the pace on Monday at Dodger Stadium by driving in three runs, but Calhoun also knocked in two, and Giavotella and Gregorio Petit each drove in one.

During the weekend in Seattle, Cron led the way with a three-RBI game in which Jefry Marte, Calhoun, Trout and Nava each had one RBI. Pujols set the pace with three RBIs Saturday, while Calhoun had two and Yunel Escobar, Trout and Nava had one each. Nava had two more RBIs on Sunday, while Calhoun drove in the Angels' third run.

And then, with Nava sidelined, Ortega stepped in on Wednesday, and he and Giavotella drove in two runs apiece. Trout, Pujols, Giavotella and Perez each had one RBI.

"You are not going far unless you lineup delivers," said Scioscia. "We have a lot of confidence it will. Guys have to pick up for each other. Someone has to step in when there's an opening and taken advantage of it."

Lately, the Angels have found the answers they have needed.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.