Big Red

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One of a handful of favorites to represent the American League in the World Series, the Angels have stumbled to a 17-27 start, 12 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West after dividing four games with visiting Chicago this past weekend.

With a lineup that includes elite power hitters Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton (five homers, .216 batting average and 12 runs batted in), Mike Trout (eight homers, 29 RBIs and a .278 average) and Mark Trumbo, the team has floundered primarily because their starting pitching and bullpen have been mostly ineffective, and they’re missing their ace, Jered Weaver (0-1 with a 4.91 earned-run average) who broke his left elbow in April.

C.J. Wilson (3-3 with a 3.72 ERA) and Jason Vargas (3-3 and a 3.55 ERA), who tossed seven shutout innings in Sunday’s 6-2 victory, have been solid, but the Halos let Ervin Santana sign with the Kansas City Royals, and Dan Haren ink a deal with the Washington Nationals.

Now rumors have been swirling about Manager Mike Scioscia’s future, but owner Arte Moreno recently said the skipper’s job is safe.

If the Angels fail to make the playoffs it will be the fourth consecutive season, and having a $128 million payroll makes matters even worse.

Scioscia has been at his job in Anaheim for 14 years, the longest currently in the big leagues, and has led the Angels to a World Series title in 2002.

The Angels scored a pair of runs in the third inning on Erick Aybar’s double on Sunday, led 4-0 in the fourth after Chris Iannetta and Aybar each walked with the bases filled, and Howie Kendrick’s two-run double in the eighth closed the deal.

In Saturday’s 12-9 slugfest, the Angels rallied after being down 4-0 with Trumbo belting his team-leading 10th homer in the fourth, J.B. Shuck walking with the bases jammed, and Aybar getting a sacrifice fly.

The Angels forged a 5-4 lead in the fifth when Trumbo, who has 29 RBIs with a .271 batting average, added a run-scoring double, and Alberto Callaspo lifting a scoring fly.

Callaspo’s three-run homer and Shuck’s two-run double in the seventh made it 10-4, but the White Sox came within one run after Paul Konerko’s run-scoring hit, Dayan Viciedo’s run-scoring single, and Hector Gimenez’s three-run shot to right in the eighth.

It became a three-run cushion on Kendrick’s run-producing double and Callaspo’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Chris Sale (5-2) dominated the Angels in Friday’s 3-0 whitewash as the left-hander struck out 12, walked three and allowed three hits in seven and two-third innings.

Alex Rios cracked a solo homer (10th) in the first inning, Conor Gillaspie had an RBI single in the seventh, and Adam Dunn a solo blast in the ninth.

The Angels dropped a 5-4 heartbreaker on Thursday as Rios hit a solo home run, Dunn, who doubled and singled added an RBI with a run, and Jeff Keppinger drove in two runs.

Four Chicago hurlers limited the Angels to seven hits including Pujols, who has 25 RBIs with a .241 batting average, ripping his seventh homer, a two-run drive in the fourth.

Jerome Williams pitched well enough, toiling six innings, giving up five hits with two runs (earned) and three strikeouts with no walks.

Kendrick’s two-run double in the sixth inning gave the Halos a 4-2 lead, but it wasn’t enough.

Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.

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