7/5/2014 12:57 A.M. ET
Freese getting hot while trying to go to all fields
By Matthew DeFranks / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- When the Angels acquired David Freese in the offseason, they were hoping for a middle-of-the-order bat to bolster the supporting cast around Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
But in the first two months of the season, Freese did not resemble anyone close to St. Louis' 2011 postseason hero, hitting just .203 at the end of May. But Freese rebounded to hit .280 in June and .400 in his past 10 games, with eight RBIs.
Freese went 2-for-4 with one RBI on Friday night, his third straight multi-hit game, and has upped his average to a season-high .250.
"We need him," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Hopefully, he's finding a comfort level. His last 30 or so at-bats, he's starting to hit the ball a little bit better and drive the ball a little bit better. We need David."
In his last 35 at-bats, Freese notched seven extra-base hits, including an opposite-field home run against the White Sox on Wednesday, his first homer since April 27.
All three of the right-handed Freese's homers have been to either center or right field and his two-run double on Thursday found the gap in right-center. Historically, Freese has sprayed the ball to all fields, with 15 of his 32 homers going to the opposite field.
"I think I'm just getting through the baseball and I'm not trying to hit it over there, it's just where my mechanics and my approach allow me to do it," Freese said. "If you're using the whole field, you're going to have a better chance to be successful."
Instead of hitting in the heart of the order, Freese has been relegated to the bottom third, hitting primarily eighth during his recent upswing. After hitting fourth or fifth in the each of the first 10 games, Freese has hit there only twice in his last 18 starts.
"Regardless of where I'm hitting in the lineup, I think when you go on a roll, it gives your team that much better chance of winning ballgames," Freese said. "I think we understand that. This lineup's hot. Top to bottom, it's arguably one of the best lineups in the game. It just feels good to help out."
Home has been kind to Angels
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have been turning games at the Big A into W's.
At 28-14 following Friday night's comeback win, the Angels' home record is the best in the Majors. Oakland's and Cleveland's 15 home losses are tied for second fewest in the Majors.
The Angels have won eight straight at home (for the first time since 2005) and 14 of their last 15 and 19 of their last 22 at Angel Stadium. They have only won 19 of 22 only one other time in franchise history, in 1967.
But the Angels' batting average at home and on the road is identical (.262) and they have launched 13 more home runs, in just two more games, on the road. The Angels' home ERA (3.69) is lower than the road (4.04), but opposing batters are hitting 15 points higher in Anaheim.
Still, the Angels have not lost a home series since the Yankees took two of three in early May, a stretch of seven consecutive series wins.
Aggressive baserunning creating havoc, runs
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have been burning the basepaths this season and, on occasion, themselves.
Despite ranking second in the American League with 4.86 runs per game, the Angels lead the AL with 40 outs on bases. They have been called out at second 14 times (first in the AL), third 14 times (first) and home nine times.
"It's cyclical," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Overall, I love our baserunning. First six to eight weeks, we were running at an incredible pace. There have been some outs we've run into."
Albert Pujols leads the Angels with seven outs on the bases, while Erick Aybar and Josh Hamilton each have five. Mike Trout has three.
But the aggressive baserunning has not been all bad for the Angels. They are second in the AL in extra bases taken percentage, a figure that measures how often a baserunner went more than one base on singles and more than two bases on doubles. The Angels have done so 47 percent of the time.
The Angels lead the AL in number of times a runner has gone first to third on a single (60) and number of times a runner has scored from second on a single (65).
"At times, you're running to try to force some action, and we've run into some outs, but it still has the purpose of what we're trying to accomplish," Scioscia said. "I think we've created a lot more offense with our baserunning, and that's important."
The risky baserunning has not translated to stolen bases, though, as the Angels have only swiped 51 bases, just above the league average (48). Trout, who stole 82 bases the past two seasons, has just 10 this season.
• Injured reliever Fernando Salas started his rehab assignment Friday night with Class A Inland Empire. Salas has been on the disabled list since June 15 with inflammation in his right shoulder.
Salas pitched one inning of scoreless relief with one strikeout. He threw 10 pitches, seven for strikes.
Scioscia said Salas needs to face live hitting after being sidelined for nearly a month, and the Angels will evaluate his velocity and command after his outing.
Salas has a 2.96 ERA in 28 games this season and would add depth to a six-man Angels bullpen.
• Pujols started as the designated hitter on Friday night for the fourth time in the last seven games. This season, Pujols is hitting .305 with a home run every 13 plate appearances as the DH. As a first baseman, Pujols is hitting .237 with a homer every 27 plate appearances.
With a two-run home run in the fourth inning, Albert Pujols tied Fred McGriff at 42nd with 1,550 career RBIs and grabbed sole possesion of 24th on the all-time home run list. His 510 homers are one shy of Mel Ott.
Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.