Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun thrives in return to leadoff spot

Kole Calhoun has two hits, two walks and three runs scored in Angels' win over Seattle

Most hitters say they try to keep the same approach no matter where they are batting in the lineup, but that definitely wasn’t the case with Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun on Thursday night.

Calhoun had one hit in 19 at-bats in seven games since returning from a sprained right ankle on May 21, with all of his starts coming at the bottom of the order, and he was admittedly too impatient at the plate, swinging at bad pitches.

But that all changed Thursday night with a return to the leadoff spot, from where Calhoun had two hits, two walks, scored three runs and saw 29 pitches in five plate appearances in the Angels’ 7-5 win over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

“I wanted to see some pitches, work deep into some counts, and I was able to do that,” Calhoun said. “Your typical leadoff hitter is going to try to get on base and let these guys know what the starting pitcher is throwing, especially early in the game.

“I saw six pitches in my first at-bat, and I laid off some close ones in my second and third at-bats. That’s something personally I need to do, and it’s good for the team. I set the table and had a good night.”

Calhoun said Thursday night was the best he’s felt timing-wise at the plate, and sending both of his hits to the opposite field, a single to left-center in the third inning and a double to left in the sixth, was a good sign.

“I’ve been swinging at a lot of their pitches,” Calhoun said. “The name of the game is to pick your own pitch, to do damage with something in the middle of the plate. I hit a couple of good pitches, had some knocks, got on base, scored some runs. If I’m going to be in that one-spot, that’s got to be my game.”

Calhoun led a 15-hit attack that included three hits from Erick Aybar, who broke the game open with a three-run home run in the fourth, three hits and two runs batted in from Mike Trout, and three hits and two runs from C.J. Cron.

The Angels have won 14 of 20 games and are 1 1/2 games behind the American League West-leading Oakland Athletics going into a big three-game series at the Oakland Coliseum that starts Friday night.

“We’re playing as a team, and that’s what it’s going to take, 25 guys, to win a series there,” Calhoun said. “It’s a tough place to play. They’re a good team. But I love what we have in this locker room right now.

 “There’s a lot of weapons in here, one through nine. Guys have their special things that they bring to the table. Everyone’s going to have to do what they do and do it well, and we’ll be all right.”

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