Hamilton hears it as 'Big Three' continue to struggle

Hamilton hears it as 'Big Three' continue to struggle

ANAHEIM -- The boos rained down on Josh Hamilton as he stood at first base following his inning-ending double play that had just quashed a potential Angels rally in the 10th inning.

Realistically, the entire Angels offense has struggled in the American League Division Series, specifically in key situations. As a whole, they came out of Friday night's 4-1 loss in 11 innings to the Royals in Game 2 just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. It's the main reason they find themselves down two games to none, heading to Kansas City.

  Date Time Matchup/Result Network
Gm 1 Oct. 2   KC 3, LAA 2 video
Gm 2 Oct. 3   KC 4, LAA 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 5   KC 8, LAA 3 video
But understandably, the focus will shift to the club's trio of stars -- Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Hamilton -- who have combined to go 1-for-25 in the series.

"There's obviously more pressure, but you can't put it on yourself," Trout said. "You've just got to go out there and play baseball. Just keep doing what got you here."

Yes, Trout and Pujols have struggled mightily this series, but it was Hamilton taking the brunt of the Angel Stadium crowd's frustration. With his 0-for-4 night Friday, Hamilton is now hitless in nine at-bats this series.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia wasn't ready to place the blame on any of his stars, given the entire team's woes at the dish.

"I think it's unfair to focus on one guy in looking at us," Scioscia said,. "We haven't scored many runs this series."

Scioscia's decision to stick with Hamilton, meanwhile, came down to his belief that Hamilton's bat could get hot at the right time.

"It's definitely worth playing Josh out now to see where it's going to lead," Scioscia said before the game.

But Hamilton played just once in the regular season's final 23 games because of injuries to his right shoulder and right side. He hasn't looked himself in the ALDS, and the injuries could certainly be a factor.

Perhaps no moment better demonstrated Hamilton's struggles than his ninth-inning at-bat in Game 1. With the potential winning run on second, he took a pitch in the dirt, before swinging and missing badly on three straight pitches. The final whiff came on a changeup that he missed by several inches and ended up flailing at because he was so far out in front.

Hamilton had a chance to redeem himself in the 10th inning in Game 2, with the winning run on base once again. But he weakly bounced to first base and couldn't beat out a 3-6-3 double play.

Trout and Pujols had their chances as well, and the pair came through in the sixth inning. Trout worked a walk behind a Kole Calhoun single, and Pujols followed with an RBI single to right.

But that was the only offense from the trio -- in which the Angels have invested more than half a billion dollars -- produced all night.

"People think that the postseason is a huge difference from the regular season," said Pujols. "You make a huge difference if you want. To me, it's still a game."

As for whether Pujols thinks the big moment has somehow altered the approaches of Trout and Hamilton.

"You need to ask them, not me," he said. "Wrong person."

After receiving treatment for his various injuries, Hamilton left the ballpark without returning to the clubhouse to do interviews.

Trout, meanwhile, is convinced that the Angels' offense isn't that far off.

"We're having good at-bats," Trout said. "We're just missing our pitches. It's tough, but we've just got to turn the page."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.