video thumbnail

BAL@LAA: Kendrick drives in two with a double

ANAHEIM -- The Angels beat the Orioles on Friday night, 6-3, and in the process snapped their second three-game losing streak, gave Jordan Walden his first save chance and set themselves up to win back-to-back games for the first time all year. (Crazy, right?)

That's the part we know.

What we don't know -- what nobody ever really knows without hindsight -- is what the Angels can take from this victory to finally build momentum and bounce back from what's still a disappointing 5-9 start.

"I think a lot of us in here know that it's a long season," said second baseman Howie Kendrick, who paced the offense by going 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs. "I don't think any guy in here thinks their season is over with because we started out rough the first 13 games. We all know that we can play good baseball and come back and be right back in the mix. If there's any time that you're going to be down, why not early?"

The victory may have come against a pitcher (Brian Matusz) that now has a Major League-high 12-game active losing streak, and against a team they've beaten in seven of the last eight season series. But there were some positive signs for the Angels that perhaps can translate long-term.

Like Jerome Williams, who attacked the strike zone, had a good feel for his sinker and bounced back from an ugly season debut at Yankee Stadium to give up three runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Or Erick Aybar and Kendrick, who combined to go 5-for-9 at the top of the order.

Or the way they scored their runs in general. That's what manager Mike Scioscia liked most, even though his club finished 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position. The Angels scored two in the first on a couple of two-out RBI doubles -- by Vernon Wells and, albeit on a fly ball that should've been caught, Mark Trumbo -- manufactured another in the second with the help of one of two Aybar bunt singles, and used two walks to help set the stage for Kendrick's two-run double in the sixth.

"We didn't really drive the ball today," Scioscia said, "but I thought that we set the table well, hit well with runners in scoring position, and it was kind of the type of offense we can have when we're not hitting the ball out of the ballpark, which we did not do."

That includes Albert Pujols, who went 0-for-4, drew his first walk (an intentional one) since April 8 and, for the third straight night, hit a ball that looked gone off the bat before the thick Southern California marine layer sucked it up.

Pujols, whose batting average sits at .276, is now homerless in a career-high 58 at-bats to start the season.

"Home runs, they just happen," Kendrick said. "And when they happen, they come in bunches, too. When he hits that first one, I'm pretty sure you'll see five or six more after that."

Williams gave up five runs and lasted only 2 2/3 innings against the Yankees on Sunday, but had his stuff working for most of the game on Friday.

The 30-year-old right-hander surrendered only one run through the first six frames, retiring eight of nine batters at one point, then exited after giving up a two-run homer to Nolan Reimold with two outs in the seventh.

What was the biggest difference between the Williams of Sunday and the Williams of Friday?

The answer, it seems, is simple.

"Strikes," Scioscia said. "It was strikes. I mean, he was in great counts most of the night."

Williams threw only 67 of his 102 pitches for strikes, but started out ahead on 19 of the 28 hitters he faced.

"That start in New York, I wasn't attacking the zone, and I was behind in the count," Williams said after giving up seven hits, walking one and striking out six in his second outing. "I think tonight I was attacking the zone. I got ahead. If I did make a mistake, I got away with it, and I got guys out."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter, however, believes Williams may have received some help from home-plate umpire Dale Scott, saying: "He was getting a couple balls [called strikes] off the plate, and he made good use of them."

Relievers LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Downs and, finally, Walden finished off the win, with the Angels' closer finally notching his first save of the season -- in his first try. Comments