The Los Angeles Angels beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-2, on Tuesday to snap a five-game skid and get back to .500. The Angels (29-29) are just four games back of the Houston Astros for first place in the AL West, but they’ve got to figure out their offense – and soon. The Angels rank 10th in the AL in runs and 12th in batting average (.240).
“Well, we’ve got a lot of different things happening on the offensive side,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s almost like you have six holes on your wall and you have enough spackle to fill four holes and you’re trying to figure out which ones to fill, trying to get a deeper lineup until some guys start to swing the way they’re capable of. Our rotation’s been good all year. We had a tough series in New York – we just didn’t pitch well – but our rotation’s been good and our bullpen’s shown it can hold leads when we set the game up that way.
“So right now, there’s probably not one thing you’re going to do that’s going to all of a sudden propel you to where you want tot be,” Scioscia continued. “We have to be patient in some areas. And then in other areas, frankly, there’s no doubt that we’ll be looking at some changes here in a couple weeks if we can’t get some production.”
That’s always a tricky proposition. How does a manager balance being patient and giving a guy enough at-bats versus giving someone else an opportunity and stringing together different combinations?
“As an organization, we’re not as deep offensively as we were last year when we led the league in runs,” Scioscia said. “Howie Kendrick was traded to the Dodgers, obviously. We know Josh Hamilton is not with us. Some of the guys we brought in are struggling. And some guys are getting close to 200 at-bats, and I think when you get to that range and you’re struggling, you have to really look in the mirror and see what’s going on.”
David Freese, for example, is hitting just .239, while Matt Joyce is hitting .189.
“These guys have good track records and just aren’t performing right now,” Scioscia said. “We just have to keep getting better. If we can get better on the offensive side, we’re really confident in . . . our ability to become a championship-caliber club. But right now, we’re hit-or-miss.”
Two guys who aren’t hit-or-miss are Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, each of whom has 16 home runs on the season. That duo has also combined for 63 RBIs and 19 doubles and has OBPs of .373 and .317, respectively.
“We have two Hall of Fame-caliber players,” Scioscia said. “One, Albert, already has the credentials and he’s still playing at an incredibly high level, and another guy is Mike Trout, who is going to be there at some point. These guys are the building blocks of our team, the building blocks of our lineup. They play great defense, they play hard, and the fun thing about these two guys – if you hear them in the dugout, if you see the way they interact with players – there’s one thing on their mind during the game and that’s winning a baseball game. Albert’s not consumed (about passing) Mickey Mantle (in home runs). He’s not consumed with what’s going on in his career. Mike is just going out there doing whatever he can to help us win. It’s fun to be around.
“So these two guys are the heart and soul of our club, and they’re easy to build around,” Scioscia continued. “Hopefully we’re going to get the group around them that can support us and make us a deeper team because these two guys are really good. You have to see Mike Trout firsthand to realize just what an incredible athlete he is every day – how fast he is, how hard he plays. He’s fun to watch.”