Adam Rosales’ second-inning home run was the 12th the Angels have served up this season and the fourth given up by left-hander Joe Saunders. Yet, while both lead the majors, it is not of much concern to Manager Mike Scioscia only seven games into the season.
“You can take any little cross section out of any season and say, ‘Well, you gave up 10 home runs or you only averaged four runs for these 10 games,’” he said. “These statistics are naked right now. It could be, early in the season, where some guys aren’t really locked in as they will be. It’s obviously a small sample.”
Pitching coach Mike Butcher had another theory.
“Global warming,” he said with a smile before continuing in a more serious vein.
“It’s just execution of pitches,” he said. “It’s just focus, execution of pitches and just getting the right locations.
“We’ve got to make our pitches. We’ve got to set up guys right away. There’s got to be good sequences. So it’s all about pitch sequence, execution of pitches.”
Knock on Wood
Although it hardly seemed possible, Brandon Wood’s early-season struggles actually worsened Sunday when he made a costly error and was hitless in three at-bats. He is hitting .053 with only a single and a team-high seven strikeouts in 19 at-bats.
“It’s hard to believe my head’s not all jammed up with a bunch of negative stuff,” said Wood, who heard boos from the Angel Stadium crowd Sunday. “I’ve got 19 at-bats. There’s a lot of time to start swinging. And this is as bad as it’s going to get for me. It only can go up. And that’s how I’m looking at it.
“These numbers aren’t me. I know that.”
Wood showed signs of progress Sunday, stinging a line drive in the second inning but losing an extra-base hit on a leaping stab at first base by Oakland’s Daric Barton. Wood also made a fine play to get Kevin Kouzmanoff on a slow roller in the fourth inning.
But in the eighth inning, he bounced a throw to first base after fielding a two-out grounder, drawing an error on a play that could have been ruled a hit. That drew more boos and opened the door for a three-run Oakland rally.
Teammate Torii Hunter said a week on the road, and a little bit of silence, may be helpful in getting Wood on track.
“You really don’t want to say anything,” said Hunter, who has a locker near Wood’s. “Just let him clear his head and do what he’s got to do. Sometimes you just have to let your God-given talent take place and do what you’ve been doing to get you here.
“He hasn’t even tried that yet.”
Ringing in the new year
The New York Yankees will celebrate their World Series title, and receive their championship rings, before Tuesday’s home opener. And the Angels, who will be in the visitors’ dugout, will be looking on with something other than disinterest.
“That’s what all of us are playing for. I guess we’re a little jealous,” said Scioscia, whose team lost to the Yankees in last fall’s American League Championship Series. “It’s a little bittersweet being there. We had a chance to do it and those guys beat us.”
Scioscia’s team won’t be going home completely empty-handed. Among those receiving rings Tuesday will be Angels slugger Hideki Matsui, who was the World Series most valuable player while with the Yankees last year.
“I really want one of those. I want that popsicle,” Hunter said. “The last 12, 13 years I’ve been looking at everybody’s ring. That’s why I really want it.”