The Angels entered Thursday with a 12-22 record against left-handed starters and a .244 batting average, .318 on-base percentage and .397 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers, far below their 52-52 mark against right-handed starters and .270/.333/.419 slash line against right-handers.
So how do you explain what happened Thursday night, when the Angels went 11 for 18 with six runs in the first three innings against left-hander David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, en route to a 6-2 win over the Rays in Angel Stadium?
“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “Numbers aren’t always going to play out. We had great early at-bats tonight. We got some good looks at him. This guy is one of the best left-handers in baseball.”
Price, who fell to 8-7 with a 3.51 earned-run average, showed that later Thursday night when he did not allow a hit in the fourth through seventh innings, but the damage was already done.
Josh Hamilton and Luis Jimenez opened the second with singles, Grant Green reached on a one-out infield single, a chopper to third baseman Evan Longoria, who couldn’t beat the speeding Hamilton to the bag at third, and Collin Cowgill roped a three-run double to the gap in left-center.
The Angels strung five straight hits together in the third, including Mark Trumbo’s double to center, Hamilton’s run-scoring single to center, Jimenez’s double to center and Kole Calhoun’s RBI single to right. Green capped the rally with an RBI fielder’s-choice grounder.
“We were putting good wood on the ball,” Trumbo said. “I think everyone got pitches they can handle, and that was a big hit by Cowgill to swing the momentum our way. For a Cy Young winner, I think we battled him pretty good.”
Hamilton’s two hits raised his average to a season-high .238, and the outfielder is batting .337 (30 for 89) over his last 24 games. All nine starters had at least one hit, and the Angels went five for 11 with runners in scoring position after going hitless in 11 at-bats in those situations in the previous two games, both losses.
The support helped Angels starter Jerome Williams, who allowed two runs and six hits, struck out seven and walked two in 6 1/3 innings, win his first game since June 12 and improve to 6-10.
The right-hander was 0-8 with a 6.58 ERA in his previous 13 starts, the longest winless streak in the AL this season and the longest by an Angel since Jim Abbott went 13 straight starts without a win in 1996.
“It didn’t really weigh on me,” Williams said of the streak. “Every time I go out there, I try my best, and unfortunately, it just wasn’t happening for me. You can’t let that bother you. You have to try to put up zeros and do what you need to do to give the team a chance to win.”