06/30/12 12:40 AM ET
Halos surge at plate, but there's room to improve
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
Yeah, neither do they.
With Mike Trout setting the tone, Albert Pujols reverting back to form and Mark Trumbo continuing his terrific season, the Angels' offense now seems to be clicking on all cylinders after some head-scratching early struggles.
In April, they had the second-worst batting average (.238) and OPS (.659) in the American League.
They finished a 7-5 loss on Friday with the June lead in both those categories -- with a .300 batting average and a .846 OPS -- and have posted double-digit-hit games in eight of their last nine.
Trumbo finished the day with 27 RBIs this month, just three shy of the club record set by Vladimir Guerrero in 2004. Pujols, coming off the first four-hit game of his Angels career Thursday, was batting .341 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs. And Trout led the AL in batting average (.342) and stolen bases (22), while ranking fourth in on-base percentage (.398).
But it's not just them.
Howie Kendrick has hit .310 in June, raising his batting average from .257 to .273.
Erick Aybar recently snapped an 11-game hitting streak, the longest on the team this season.
Alberto Callaspo was batting .297 over his last 42 games, raising his batting average from .170 to .265.
And Torii Hunter has taken off since being placed in the No. 2 spot, posting a .364 average in 19 games.
"I think offensively, we're much closer to being the team we can be than the team we were in the first two months of the season," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose club reeled off 25 wins over 34 games. "But I still think there's upside."
Frieri knows he'll have to adjust on hill
TORONTO -- Hitters are starting to catch on to Ernesto Frieri.
It hasn't resulted in any runs coming across the board, but the Angels reliever notices that they're starting to barrel up his deceptive fastball a lot better than they had been. The latest example came Thursday night, when Frieri put three runners on -- two on line-drive singles -- before preserving a two-run lead with a game-ending double play.
There will come a time, Frieri believes, when he'll have to offset his fastball more often.
"Everybody's getting ready for me," Frieri said after converting his 10th save in 10 chances. "They know me a little bit more, they know that I use my fastball a lot, and those guys are really good hitters. I have to make some adjustments. I have to work on my breaking balls and just try to get them out, because, like I said, they're ready for me. They're looking fastball all the time now, and they know that I throw it a lot."
Since coming over from the Padres in early May, Frieri has thrown his fastball 83.9 percent of the time, according to FanGraphs.com.
Frieri isn't about to make drastic changes to what has worked so well for him -- what has allowed him to notch 23 1/3 scoreless innings and strike out 40 batters in the process. But he realizes that he'll eventually have to go away from his fastball a little more frequently to keep hitters off balance.
Mariano Rivera he's not.
"There's never been another one like him, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the next Mariano," Frieri said of the Yankees' closer, who has carved a Hall of Fame career with basically only a cutter. "That guy is unbelievable."
Frieri doesn't use them very often, but in addition to an electric fastball -- one that features late life and can cut in several different directions -- he also sports a slider and changeup.
On Thursday night, in fact, he used an offspeed pitch to end the game. With the bases loaded, one out and the Angels leading, 9-7, Frieri figured Edwin Encarnacion would be looking for a fastball on an 0-2 count. So, he surprised him with the slider, which he rolled over on to eventually end the game.
"I know that I have to make adjustments," Frieri said. "That's what baseball is -- it's about making adjustments. That's how you get better. And I'm glad that I just got out of that inning. It was really tough. Now I know that I need to work on something."
Prospect Pena added to Futures Game roster
TORONTO -- Angels right-handed pitching prospect Ariel Pena has been added to the World team roster for the upcoming Futures Game in Kansas City, replacing Rockies lefty Edwar Cabrera and joining shortstop teammate Jean Segura.
The 23-year-old Pena, ranked 15th in the Angels' system by MLB.com, has posted a 2.94 ERA in 15 starts during his first season in Double-A, adding a 1.24 WHIP and a 2.53 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The 14th annual Futures Game can be seen live on MLB.TV, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD, and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday on Sunday, July 8, at 2 p.m. PT. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast live play-by-play coverage on MLB Network Radio XM 89. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game.
Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send/receive tweets to/from the U.S. and World team dugouts during the game by following @USDugout and @WorldDugout.
Major League Baseball, along with the MLB Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League baseball clubs, selected the 25-man rosters.
Cabrera isn't participating because he was called up by the Major League club earlier this week.
Jerome Williams, placed on the disabled list after an asthma attack last week, is scheduled to throw roughly 75 pitches for Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday. Williams will make at least two rehab appearances before being activated.
Despite being shut down from his throwing program twice, Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said his right forearm "feels great." A recent contrast MRI didn't show anything besides a strain and some inflammation. Iannetta will restart his throwing program in the next couple of days, with the hope of finally progressing towards a rehab assignment.
Those attending the Angels' home game against the Orioles next Friday will receive a poster of Trout's home run-robbing catch in Camden Yards. Supplies are limited, though.
On Thursday, July 26, Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson will host the fourth annual Throw Strikes Bowling Tournament to benefit Wilson's Children's Charities, the patients of the Hematology Clinic of CHOC Children's and The Hemostasis and Thrombosis Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
The event will take place at 300 Anaheim, which is located on 321 West Katella Ave., and other Angels players are expected to attend. Festivities will include dinner, a raffle, bowling with prizes for top scores and Wilson serving as a deejay. A $50 donation allows entry to the event along with one free game of bowling and shoe rental. Tickets are available on Wilson's website, leftylefty.com, and at the door the day of the event.
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.