8/1/2013 9:42 P.M. ET
Scioscia tries another Pujols-less lineup
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Angels were riding a season-high six-game losing streak, had just suffered three straight defeats to the Rangers via walk-off home runs and the offense had scored three runs or fewer in eight of 13 second-half games.
It was time to switch it up.
And so, for Thursday's series opener against Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson, Angels manager Mike Scioscia did. The big-swinging Kole Calhoun batted leadoff; Mike Trout was back to the No. 2 spot after hitting third in place of Albert Pujols over the last five games; Josh Hamilton -- 5-for-11 in Texas -- hit third for the second time all season; and Howie Kendrick, Mark Trumbo, Erick Aybar, Chris Nelson, J.B. Shuck and Chris Iannetta followed, respectively.
"There are some things you have to work around when a guy like Albert is not in the lineup," Scioscia said. "It's a look we've had before, so I don't think it's totally foreign except for Josh moving to the three-hole. It will give us a good look early in the first inning and hopefully we get some big boys up there with guys on base and see what happens. I think it's a good place for Erick to hit in the six-hole, in more of a spot where he can just slash and do what he does best and that's make contact and get hits, and maybe it'll be productive with some guys on base."
Hamilton returns from Texas on a hot streak
ANAHEIM -- The just-completed three-game series at Rangers Ballpark saw the Angels suffer three losses via walk-off home runs -- but it might not have been a total loss.
Josh Hamilton quietly got going at the plate again.
"No better place to do it, too," he said with a wry smile, in acknowledgment of a setting in which he's still booed loudly for departing to the division-rival Angels this offseason.
Hamilton isn't about to get overly excited about a successful three-game stretch. He's had plenty of these throughout the year, only to struggle again and continue what has been a nightmare first season with the Angels.
But he went 5-for-11 in the three-game set, drawing three walks, hitting a homer -- his 16th of the year and first against his former team -- and driving in seven runs, putting his slash line at .226/.283/.418.
"It's a starting point," Hamilton said. "When you take a game through the next day, and how you feel in the game the day before to the next game and start putting those at-bats together, it's a good feeling."
The last three games were good enough to put Hamilton in the No. 3 spot for only the second time this season on Thursday, with Mike Trout back to hitting second against Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson.
"The biggest thing is just trusting," Hamilton said. "When you're struggling sometimes, you try to create a little bit too much. Just understand that the guys throw hard -- 94 to 96 mph -- and you don't have to do much extra, especially being a lefty. Just try to put a barrel on it, hit it back up the middle or the other way."
• Chris Iannetta made a pretty rare start against a right-hander (Josh Johnson) on Thursday and the switch-hitting Hank Conger, getting most of the starts against righties for a while now, said he isn't nursing an injury. The right-handed-hitting Iannetta was starting his third straight game - the previous two against lefties -- and started four of seven in the road trip. Only one of those starts came against a right-handed starter, though. Mike Scioscia said Conger would "get back out there in this series at some point."
• Mike Trout led the Majors in July with a .476 on-base percentage and 1.108 OPS, and was the only player in the American League to reach base in every game that month. Since June 8, a stretch of 45 games, Trout is batting .377 with 31 runs, 15 doubles, seven homers and 29 RBIs. He leads the Majors with a 6.7 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs.com. Second is Miguel Cabrera at 6.3.
• ESPN selected the Aug. 12 Angels-Yankees game from the Bronx for Monday Night Baseball. Dave O'Brien, Aaron Boone, Rick Sutcliffe and Tim Kurkjian will handle the broadcast, with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. PT.
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.