Sports Angels

Angels have confidence going into series against AL West-leading A's

Angels complete sweep of Chicago White Sox with 4-2 victory Sunday
Closer Ernesto Frieri says Angels will beat Oakland Athletics
Angels are 4 1/2 games behind AL West-leading Oakland

The euphoria of a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox was palpable in the Angels clubhouse Sunday, especially in the corner cubicle of closer Ernesto Frieri, who notched his 10th save in a 4-2 victory in Angel Stadium.

Having rebounded nicely from a rocky 3-7 trip, the Angels set their sights on the American League West-leading Oakland Athletics, who open a three-game series in Anaheim on Monday night with a 4 1/2-game lead over the Angels.

The A's throttled the Angels during a three-game sweep in Oakland from May 30-June 1, outscoring them, 26-11, and they've won five of six games from the Angels this season, firmly establishing themselves as the top dog in the division.

But Frieri, buoyed by the sweep of the White Sox and somewhat ignorant of the two-time defending division-champion A's dominance of them, still made a bold prediction that could find its way to a bulletin board in the Oakland clubhouse.

"We're going to beat them — get ready to write that down," Frieri said. "I hate to say this, but they've had a little bit of extra luck against us. If you pay attention to the way we've played, it's stupid how the games have gone their way. But it's going to turn our way."

Garrett Richards will take the mound Monday night looking to avenge his last start against the A's, when he gave up five runs and failed to make it out of the first inning of a 9-5 loss on May 30.

"It's a big series, a chance for us to show not only everybody else but them in particular, the guys leading our division, what kind of team they're dealing with," Richards said. "We have a really good team here, as you saw in this sweep. We had a crappy road trip, but we came back.

"The teams we had the last two years, I don't know if we would have done that. But this is a special team. I've been saying it all year. Everybody battles. Everyone is pulling on the same rope. It's a collective group working for a common goal, and that's what championship teams do."

The Angels, 11-17 against AL West opponents and 22-11 against everyone else, will have one key asset that they did not have in the first six games against Oakland: cleanup batter Josh Hamilton.

The left fielder, who sat out two months because of a torn left-thumb ligament, hit a run-scoring double in the third inning and a two-run single in the fifth off Chicago left-hander Jose Quintana on Sunday. In six games since he returned, Hamilton is batting .348 (eight for 23) with a homer and four runs batted in.

Hamilton, who hit .201 against left-handers last season, also singled twice off Chris Sale, one of the best left-handers in the game, Saturday, an encouraging sign considering the Angels will face A's left-handers Drew Pomeranz and Tommy Milone this week.

"It helps the confidence, knowing Oakland is coming in with two good left-handers," Hamilton said. "I'll try to do same thing; have good at-bats and put the ball in play."

Hamilton was hitting .444 with two homers and six RBIs in eight games when he injured his thumb, but the two-month layoff does not appear to have affected his timing. Of course, Hamilton has had some practice at this.

He was sidelined 24 games in September 2010 because of a broken rib and hit .350 with four homers and seven RBIs for Texas in the AL Championship Series. He missed 35 games in April and May of 2011 but bounced back to hit .298 with 25 homers and 94 RBIs for the season.

"Keeping your legs in shape is important so when you come back, you're not too far behind," Hamilton said. "But the biggest thing is understanding you can't do anything to make up for the games you lost. That's a big deal. I've done it before. I've tried to come back and do too much and ended up spiraling the other way."

Twitter: @MikeDiGivoanna

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Angels rally past White Sox, 6-5
    Angels rally past White Sox, 6-5

    KEY MOMENT: With the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning and White Sox starter Chris Sale appearing to tire, Chicago Manager Robin Ventura kept the left-hander in the game to face Mike Trout, who drove Sale's 115th pitch of the game over the wall in center field for a grand slam to...

  • Playing for keeps on semipro football team
    Playing for keeps on semipro football team

    As the last traces of daylight vanished, players for the semipro Hollywood Stars tugged on shoulder pads and pants behind their cars. The smell of stale sweat, along with rap music and laughter from shouted jokes, drifted through the November chill of another night on the margins of organized...

  • Fighting on over Pete Carroll
    Fighting on over Pete Carroll

    The Southland's Super Bowl debate began a week early, at a church casino night in Baldwin Park, around a blackjack table with worthless chips and priceless banter.

  • Lakers don't get an imperfect 10, beating Bulls, 123-118
    Lakers don't get an imperfect 10, beating Bulls, 123-118

    Sorry, Lakers from the 1993-94 season. The record is still yours.

  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak says Kobe Bryant is worth it
    Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak says Kobe Bryant is worth it

    Kobe Bryant was all smiles when he talked about his $48.5-million contract extension in November 2013, saying he would "run through a wall" for the Lakers to prove they were right and everybody who doubted them was wrong.

  • Bulls' Pau Gasol receives the ovation he deserves from Lakers fans
    Bulls' Pau Gasol receives the ovation he deserves from Lakers fans

    The applause swelled as fans at Staples Center rose to their feet Thursday, generously welcoming back Pau Gasol and the memories of better times, of moments such as the one shown on the video board of Gasol leaning on the NBA championship trophy after one of the two titles he helped the...