Against the American League Central-leading Tigers, the Angels -- 14-8 winners at Comerica Park on a rainy Tuesday night -- are 4-0 while outscoring them by 24.
"We're just trying to get as many wins as we can. That's really all there is to it," said C.J. Wilson, his Angels still nine games below .500 and 10 games out of first place. "It's so deep in the season now, I don't care if we win in 16 innings and they're all unearned runs or whatever. We need to take advantage of every mistake the other team makes, and that's all that matters right now -- that we won the game."
The Angels won Tuesday night thanks to their offense, which notched a season high in runs, cranked out 16 hits and took advantage of six Tigers errors -- the most by the franchise since 1982. Eight runs came across in the top of the fifth, turning a 2-2 game into somewhat of a laugher, and every member of the Angels' lineup collected at least one hit and scored at least one run.
Five players -- Hamilton, J.B. Shuck, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar -- had multi-hit games.
"You feed off each other," said Hamilton, who notched his first three-hit game since April 22 after missing the previous three with a sore right wrist. "It goes as far as winning, too. You build momentum, and that can happen in an inning, as well as it can in a game. That's just fun, when guys go out and get the job done throughout the lineup."
The eight-run frame was the second-largest inning for the Angels this season. Their largest was nine runs in the first inning on April 20 against Rick Porcello, who took the mound in the top of the fifth for Detroit with the game tied at 2, and then watched it all unravel.
Pujols hit a one-out double, Mark Trumbo singled, Howie Kendrick gave the Angels the lead with an RBI single, Hamilton notched another RBI single, Alberto Callaspo was intentionally walked and then Porcello exited the game. In came Darin Downs, who walked Hank Conger with the bases loaded, gave up a sacrifice fly to Aybar, and then three straight RBI singles to Shuck, Trout and Pujols.
The final run scored on an errant pickoff throw from Evan Reed, capping an inning in which the Angels sent 12 batters to the plate and went 6-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"Coming off an off-day, sometimes it doesn't go that way," said Shuck, who went 3-for-5 with a double and four RBIs. "Today, we put together a great performance."
Wilson battled an escalating pitch count and was charged with five runs in five innings in what he said was "one of my worst outings of the year." But the Angels scored eight in the fifth and then tacked on three more in an ugly eighth, providing more than enough cushion for a ninth inning that saw the Tigers score three runs with a lightning storm nearby.
The Angels swept a three-game series against the Tigers in Anaheim April 19-21 and have outscored the Tigers, 36-12, in four games this season -- a year in which they won't face Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer.
"The Angels right now, they've just got our number," said Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, who went 3-for-4 against his former team. "They beat us at their place and they beat us down today. So, that's the way it goes. The Astros, they actually beat those guys and we beat the Astros, so it's a crazy game. I always say it: Round ball, round bat. You never know what's going to happen."
That's a mantra the Angels will carry through the rest of this uphill climb, which has them needing to win 13 of their next 16 games to have a winning record by the All-Star break and go 56-29 to finish with 90 wins.
The momentum that carried the Angels in that eight-run fifth is the type they'll need on a daily basis as they aim for another long winning streak, like the 11-game surge that suddenly has the Blue Jays in the thick of a heated playoff race in the AL East.
The bats won't be there every night, especially not like this, but something has to be most of the time.
"We need to do everything right to get to where we need to get, to be in the race," Wilson said. "And we need to get lucky, because we're so far back right now that it's not even scoreboard watching. We have to really pull together and get the most out of ourselves. Guys have to play at the highest possible level they can play for us to win, otherwise we won't be there at the end of the season."