Angels come to life behind Wilson's gem

Angels come to life behind Wilson's gem

Angels come to life behind Wilson's gem
ANAHEIM -- The Angels won a game without Albert Pujols on Saturday night, and in the process, they provided a glimpse of just how dangerous they can be when their iconic first baseman finally gets going.

You saw it in the way Mike Trout impacted the game -- homering, doubling, diving -- in the way the ball ricocheted off the bat of Mark Trumbo, in the way fastballs sailed out of the right hand of new reliever Ernesto Frieri, and in the way the rotation continued to lay the foundation with another solid outing -- this one by newcomer C.J. Wilson in an eventual 6-2 win.

The pieces are there for the Angels; they just don't always fall into place.

On Saturday, as the slumping Pujols sat on the bench to clear his head, they did.

"We've had elements of it," Trumbo said, "but I think today was the first time it all came together."

"We did a terrific job of mixing in some bunts with some good baserunning with some situational hitting and drove the ball tonight," manager Mike Scioscia added. "And I think when you have that mix, and you add Albert to it, you can see why we're excited about where this offense can eventually end up."

While waiting around on the struggling offense, which had been shut out in back-to-back games and came in ranked 26th in the Majors in runs per game, it's the starting pitching that has kept the Angels (11-17) afloat.

With Wilson's two-run, eight-inning outing, that starting staff notched its 14th quality start in 15 games, moved its ERA to 2.28 in that stretch and has now posted a 1.10 mark over the last five contests -- a stretch that includes a shutout by Jerome Williams and a no-hitter by Jered Weaver.

"That's what everybody was anticipating coming into the year -- that we were going to pitch," said Wilson, who recorded a season-high nine strikeouts and now has a 2.61 ERA over his first six starts. "We feed off each other, and we work with each other a lot.

"I think we should continue to do that as long as we're prepared for the lineups that we face."

Behind Wilson, the Angels' lineup -- the American League-leading 25th combination Scioscia has trotted out in 28 games -- got bunt singles by Alberto Callaspo and Bobby Wilson, got homers by Trumbo and Trout, batted around for the first time since April 12 and helped rattle the Blue Jays into three errors.

All nine starters reached base, and the Angels cranked out 13 hits to give them just their second double-digit-hit game since April 21. Bobby Wilson's second-inning RBI single snapped a 23-inning scoreless streak by the offense.

"It was just a really sound ballgame," Trumbo said. "Great starting pitching, we executed, got bunts when we needed to, we moved runners and we drove them in when it counted."

With Pujols and his 108-at-bat homerless streak sitting out, the Angels got their first home run from the position of first base this year, with Trumbo taking Blue Jays righty Kyle Drabek out to deep left field for his fourth home run, kick-starting a three-run sixth inning that gave the Angels the four-run lead that allowed them to pull away.

"Just couldn't seem to find the four-seam fastball, and that's what beat me today," said Drabek, who gave up five runs in five innings as his Blue Jays fell to 16-12. "It just needs to be fixed. ... That's pretty much the end of that."

Trumbo's homer was an absolute moonshot, which came on an 0-1, down-the-middle fastball and looked gone from the moment it left his bat. Very few can drive the ball the way Trumbo can when he gets good wood on it -- maybe not even Pujols himself.

"It just comes with bat speed and squaring up the ball," said Scioscia, whose club clinched its first winning homestand by taking four of the first six. "He can leverage a ball as well as anybody in the game, and you saw it tonight."

And the Angels saw what Trout can do for them at the top of the order, hitting a fifth-inning homer to left-center field (his first of 2012), lacing a double in the eighth, scoring two runs and making a diving catch in shallow center field.

Trout had just four hits in his first 22 at-bats in the big leagues, but turned an important corner on Saturday.

Maybe his team did, too.

"Results are coming," Trout said. "I've felt good out there the last couple games. I'm seeing the ball pretty good; just trying to put good swings on it, not trying to get too big and get on base."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.