8/1/2013 9:42 P.M. ET
Hamilton returns from Texas on a hot streak
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
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."
Scioscia tries another Pujols-less lineup
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."
• 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.