If Matt Joyce is doing what he did consistently for the last seven seasons, which is hit right-handed pitching to the tune of an .800 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, the Angels might not have felt so compelled to summon Marc Krauss from triple A on Tuesday.
But there was Krauss at first base and batting ninth in the Angels' 5-2 win over the Colorado Rockies, the first line of offense for a team in desperate need of production, especially from the left side, while it waits for the trade market to develop.
Krauss hit .183 in April at Salt Lake but went on a tear in his last 10 games, batting .444 (16 for 36) with 13 runs batted in, bringing his 28-game totals to .367 with two home runs and 17 RBIs.
"It's pretty clear, even though it's a small sample, that the balance from the left side and right side is not quite there," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's something we're going to try to address."
The Angels began the game ranked 14th in the American League in runs per game (3.69) and average (.228), and last in on-base percentage (.289) and slugging (.347).
They were even worse against right-handed pitchers, batting .222 with the second-lowest OPS (.608) in the majors. They are 6-3 against left-handed starters and 10-14 against right-handers.
Left-handed-hitting leadoff man Kole Calhoun doubled twice and singled once to raise his average to .310 with 18 RBIs. But Joyce, who opened the season in the cleanup spot and was expected to ease the loss of Howie Kendrick and Josh Hamilton, was batting .140 with one home run and seven RBIs.
Joyce's OPS of .397 was the fourth-worst among major league players with at least 75 plate appearances. A career .261 hitter against right-handers before this season, Joyce was hitting .135 (12 for 89) against them before Tuesday.
But Joyce had what he hopes will be a breakout game Tuesday, knocking in one run with a fourth-inning groundout and two with a hit-and-run double to right-center field that capped a three-run eighth inning and pushed his average to .144.
"I know the fans are frustrated, but nobody is more frustrated than me," said Joyce, who was acquired in December from Tampa Bay for reliever Kevin Jepsen. "It's a game, but it's your life, your passion. Every day is a battle. It doesn't get any easier. No one is going to hand you a hit. You just have to out-work it."
Most opponents play Joyce to pull with the second baseman in shallow right field and the shortstop on the second base side of the bag. With pitchers pounding Joyce inside, especially with cut fastballs, "anything I pull is typically an out," Joyce said.
But defensive shifts aren't new to Joyce, who faced the same alignments with the Rays.
"It's hard to try to change your swing and force something the other way," Joyce said. "There's an adjustment to be made, whether it's getting my foot down a little earlier or letting the ball travel a little deeper.
"In past years, I hit some balls the other way and hit through the shift. As a left-handed pull hitter, the game is becoming more difficult because there aren't as many holes on the right side."
Perhaps the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Krauss, who has 80 home runs in 576 minor league games and can play both corner outfield spots, can help. Much like catcher Carlos Perez, who has quickly earned playing time over struggling incumbent Chris Iannetta, Krauss could seize regular at-bats if he stays hot.
"There is an opportunity, that's the way I'm looking at it," Krauss, 27, said. "But I'm not going to put any extra pressure on myself. It's already tough enough to hit. I can't think, 'How long am I gonna be here?' I just want to have some good at-bats and help the team win, and if you do that, you usually stick around."