Sports Now

Sports news from Los Angeles and beyond

« Previous Post | Sports Now Home | Next Post »

Angels offense heating up during stretch drive

September 21, 2011 |  7:06 pm

Pitching has the Angels knocking on the door to the postseason. Now, Manager Mike Scioscia says, it's up to the offense to carry the team over the threshold.

"It’s a critical time for us to move forward; getting a couple of guys swing the bats to their capabilities and carry this thing through," he said. "It’s in there. Our guys, if they can swing the bats to their potential, it’s going to put us on a good run. Needless to say, we need it."

Center fielder Peter Bourjos took up that challenge Wednesday, making history with a triple, home run and two runs scored in a 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the win -- the Angels' second straight and third in four games -- Scioscia's team assured itself it wouldn't lose ground in the either the division or wild-card races. And they could gain a game a game in both.

The Texas Rangers, who started the day leading the American League West by five games, were playing in Oakland later Wednesday. The Red Sox, who entered Wednesday 3 1/2 games ahead of the Angels in the wild-card standings, were also playing a night game.

Bourjos wrote his name in the Angel record book when he led off the third inning with his 10th triple of the season.  That made him the first player in franchise history to reach double digits for doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases in the same season. The Yankees' Curtis Granderson is the only other major leaguer to do that this year.

A little esoteric, perhaps, but history nonetheless. Then for good measure, Bourjos slugged his 12th homer of the year in the fifth inning, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead. He also singled, stole a base and scored a run in the eighth.

By then the Angels had broken the game open on a two-run bases-loaded single by Vernon Wells in the sixth and a two-run Wells homer in the eighth. The four runs batted in put a damper on the Toronto fans who have been riding Wells, a former Blue Jay, throughout the series.

Not that right-hander Dan Haren needed all that support. Aside from the 1-0 pitch that Eric Thames lined into the second deck in the right-field corner leading off the sixth, Haren was in control, scattering four hits over eight innings to match a career high with his 16th win of the season.

Haren left after another Thames' drive -- this one back at the mound -- appeared to strike him on the left wrist. Izturis got to the ground ball and threw the runner out at first to end the inning. Hisanori Takahashi then came out of the bullpen to pitch the ninth, giving up a run on two hits before Bourjos -- naturally -- caught a ball on the center-field warning track to end the game .

Bourjos finished with three hits for the second consecutive game, giving him six hits in his last seven at-bats. He scored three times while Maicer Izturis, playing place of Howie Kendrick at second base, had three hits and two runs batted in to lead the Angels' 14-hit attack. Wells was 2 for 4 with four RBIs, and Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo each added two hits of their own.

Aybar is hitting .422 this month and Callaspo is batting .400 on the trip, which concludes Thursday.

Not everyone got in the spirit for the Angels, however. Designated hitter Bobby Abreu went 0 for 5, striking four times.


Angels-Blue Jays box score

Angels keep playoff hopes alive with victory over Toronto

Torii Hunter says Angels have exceeded expectations

-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from Toronto

Photo: Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos, right, is congratulated by teammate Jeff Mathis after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning of the Angels' 7-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday. Credit: Tom Szczerbowski / U.S. Presswire