CLEVELAND -- Ernesto Frieri provided an encouraging sign during Saturday night's low-leverage ninth inning, retiring the side in order for the first time since July 19 -- on a strikeout, a flyout and a groundout -- to record the final outs of a 7-2 win against the Indians.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia will continue to handle the ninth by committee, with the likes of Dane De La Rosa, Kevin Jepsen and Michael Kohn all likely to get opportunities.
"Ernie's going to get a chance to save games, and the other guys will, too," Scioscia said. "But that was very encouraging last night, just to see the command he had. The late life was close to what we expect, and he had a clean inning."
Frieri, who spent Sunday morning working closely on his mechanics with pitching coach Mike Butcher, entered Saturday's outing with a 23.14 ERA in his previous seven relief appearances, giving up 12 runs on 15 hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings to balloon his ERA to a career-high 4.69.
His main concern lately: getting the late life on his patented two-seam fastball back.
"He'd be throwing a few more four-seam fastballs this year to see if he can locate better and got away from some of the late life on his two-seamer," Scioscia said. "He tried to introduce some off-speed and a changeup, too, and it got to be where his primary stuff was getting a little watered down. He's been trying to get back to basics."
Trout reaches base as streak keeps growing
CLEVELAND -- The last time Mike Trout failed to get on base was June 21.
Think about how much has changed since then. Alberto Callaspo and Scott Downs were still with the team, Joe Blanton was still in the rotation, Albert Pujols was still in the No. 3 spot, Jason Vargas had yet to be diagnosed with a blood clot, Peter Bourjos hadn't suffered the wrist injury that would sideline him for a month and a half, and the Angels still had hope, with more than three weeks remaining until the All-Star break.
Since then, the Angels' playoff hopes have taken a nose-dive, but Trout has continued to get on.
With two hits and a walk in Sunday's 6-5 loss against the Indians, Trout reached base for the 41st consecutive game, which is second on the Angels' all-time list and 22 shy of former shortstop Orlando Cabrera for the team record of 63. In that stretch, Trout has gone 54-for-149 with eight homers, 32 walks and five hit by pitches. His slash line for the season is now at .330/.425/.572.
But that streak does have one caveat: It isn't a true on-base streak, per se, because his only time reaching base on July 2 was on an error.
Officially, reaching on an error doesn't extend a player's on-base streak, but the Angels' public relations department has included that to indicate the amount of games Trout has reached base by any means other than an out, meaning reaching on a fielder's choice does not count.
If you don't count reaching on an error, Trout's streak is at 33 games -- three shy of Chili Davis (1995) and Erick Aybar (2011) for second in team history, and 30 shy of Cabrera's mark from '06.
Thirty-three is the longest-active streak in the Majors.
So, still pretty good.
"That's my goal: just to get on base every time," Trout said. "If it's a hit or a walk, or even an error, getting on base is something that helps the team."
Iannetta's patient eye makes up for low average
CLEVELAND -- There's patience, and then there's Chris Iannetta.
The Angels' catcher is a walk machine this year, giving him the highest disparity between batting average and on-base percentage in baseball and essentially making his .218 average entering Sunday irrelevant.
Iannetta has coupled the .218 batting average with a .362 on-base percentage, which ranks second on the Angels to Mike Trout and is a 144-point difference -- the highest in baseball for those with at least 100 plate appearances. Second is Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal (.216 batting average, .352 on-base percentage) and third is Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (.188 to .308).
Iannetta has swung at only 20.7 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone, which would tie Joey Votto for second in the Majors if he had enough playing time to qualify. His walk rate is at a career-high 18.4 percent, which would lead the Majors if he qualified. And his 56 walks are 12th most in the American League, where he doesn't even rank among the top 100 in plate appearances.
"Chris' history says that although maybe his batting average isn't up there, his ability to draw walks is part of his offense," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's shown enough power to where I think teams respect that, and if they pitch on the fringes, he has a good eye. Some of it, you can have a theory that he was in the National League [with the Rockies] and he was hitting eighth some of the time, but he's carried that over here, and his walk rate is incredible."
• Jason Vargas (blood clot) threw a between-starts bullpen session at Progressive Field on Sunday morning, as expected, and barring a setback, he'll start Tuesday's game at Yankee Stadium. But Scioscia opted to wait until Monday before making a final decision.
• Peter Bourjos (fractured right wrist) will play in his fourth game for Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday, but isn't expected to be activated off the disabled list for Monday's series opener against the Yankees, though he could make it back before the end of the four-game series on Thursday.
"I don't think the extra at-bats will hurt him," Scioscia said. "I'm sure we're going to see him some time next week, but I don't know if it's going to be [Monday]."
• Angels catcher Hank Conger has been practicing at first base during batting practice in recent days, but Conger was told to get some work there only for emergency situations. Besides Mark Trumbo, the Angels' only other option at first base is Kole Calhoun, who has had very limited time there in his pro career.
"Obviously I'm a primary catcher, and that's still what I want to try to become," said Conger, who has started only two games this month. "I'm not going to try to switch positions or anything like that."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read 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.