Notes: No homers? No problem
Halos hitting coach Hatcher explains how offense clicks
TORONTO -- Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher admits that it bothers him at times when he hears the frequent complaints about his team not generating enough home runs. The point, he insists, is scoring runs, and you get no extra credit for doing it four bases at a time."We do a lot of things offensively," Hatcher said of an offense that ranks fourth in the American League and fifth in the Majors in runs scored despite hitting fewer homers than all but two teams, Kansas City and Washington. "I think people are starting to understand how we play the game, going first to third, situational hitting, making things happen," Hatcher said. "This is like the Minnesota Twins -- we're still in it every year. I think people enjoy watching us play. Sure, we get guys thrown out [on the bases], but that doesn't stop us from doing it. "Every day we know we're going to go out and play the game our way -- and get results. If we can put a good pitching staff and good defense together, we're going to be in a lot of games." With a pitching staff that ranks third in the AL and ninth in the Majors with a 4.09 team ERA, a case can be made that the fifth-ranked offense has more than held its own for a club that came into Tuesday night's game at Toronto with MLB's second-best record (69-47), a scant game behind Boston (71-47). Funny thing is, the club has been going deep with uncommon frequency of late -- without much muscle from Vladimir Guerrero. The big man's last homer came nine games ago during his four-homer flurry in two nights in Oakland. The Angels have produced 16 homes in the past 12 games following a stretch of four homers in 22 games, including a span of 14 games and 134 innings without a long one. If they win a division title while finishing last in the league in homers -- they're seven ahead of the Royals through Monday -- they'd be only the sixth team since 1901 to do so and the first since the 1987 Cardinals, who pushed the Twins to a Game 7 in the World Series after homering only 94 times in the regular season. Stressful stretch: The Angels are coming off a sweep of Minnesota and a 5-1 homestand as they alight in Toronto for three games and then four in Boston, where they were swept in three games with one rained out in April. That rainout has been re-scheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader on Friday, which means the club will play -- weather permitting -- 27 innings in a span of about 27 hours, give or take a few. Factor in games Saturday and Sunday at Fenway Park, and the Angels are looking at a minimum of 45 innings across about 69 hours. Manager Mike Scioscia isn't revealing his plans for Friday's two games, but there's a chance he'll summon Ervin Santana for the early one and have John Lackey work the nightcap. Santana's numbers for Triple-A Salt Lake aren't overly impressive -- he's 2-1 with a 5.01 ERA in five starts -- but they're almost identical to those posted for the Bees by Joe Saunders (4-7, 5.11). Saunders has flourished for the Angels in a starting role. More impressive are Santana's 32 strikeouts and 10 walks in 32 1/3 innings, indicative of quality stuff and command. Cabrera sits: Shortstop Orlando Cabrera played the series finale on Sunday against Minnesota, wrapping up a homestand in which he hit .333 with four RBIs. Scioscia likes to give his regulars two days off their feet when he can, and it was Cabrera's turn. He yielded shortstop to Erick Aybar on Tuesday night against the Blue Jays. "I wanted to play Sunday," Cabrera said. "I want to play every day. I'm perfect [physically], really good. If that's the way [Scioscia] feels, I can't do anything about it." Toronto's artificial turf is of no concern to Cabrera, who spent seven seasons on one of the worst carpets in the Majors in Montreal. "I've played all my life on this turf," Cabrera said. "I never had a complaint." Gary Matthews Jr. said his left knee is improved after a collision at first base with Boston's Kevin Youkilis in the final game of the Red Sox series on Wednesday. "It's still a little sore," Matthews said, "but not as sore as a few days ago."
He was back in center field on Tuesday night.Minor sensations: Showing the power he hopes to bring back to Anaheim, Kendry Morales hit a pair of two-run homers in an 11-4 win over Portland on Monday. Morales is hitting .329 with a .443 slugging percentage. Double-A Arkansas right-hander Nick Green (9-6, 3.85 ERA) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and combined with two relievers on a two-hit, 4-0 blanking of San Antonio. Jeff Kennard, acquired from the Yankees for catcher Jose Molina, retired all four hitters he faced, and Darren O'Day worked a 1-2-3 ninth. On Aug. 14 in Angels history: Luis Polonia hit an inside-the-park grand slam homer, one of two in club history, in a 9-5 win over New York in 1990. Up next: Dustin Moseley (4-1, 4.93 ERA) faces fellow right-hander Shawn Marcum (9-4, 3.43) in Wednesday's 4:07 p.m. PT game.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.