Angels again are stung by Mike Napoli in loss to Red Sox
The Angels boarded their charter for a cross-country flight home Sunday night, relieved to have Mike Napoli in the rearview mirror but uneasy about the road ahead.
Napoli tormented his old team again Sunday, blasting a two-run home run in the second inning and a two-run double in the eighth to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 6-1 victory in Fenway Park.
Napoli, the former Angels catcher who was traded after the 2010 season, had four home runs and eight runs batted in to help the Red Sox win two of three games in the series. The slugger has a .333 average (55 for 165) with 18 home runs and 36 RBIs against his former club.
The loss dropped the Angels to 22-22 overall and 5-5 on their trip through Baltimore, Toronto and Boston. They’re 6 1/2 games behind first-place Houston in the American League West.
“It’s a long season,” first baseman Albert Pujols said. “We still have more than 100 games left. Where are we at? Second place? At .500? We’ll take that, and we’re not even playing that good.”
The Angels aren’t hitting enough to support a pitching staff that has kept them in most games, including Sunday’s, when Hector Santiago gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one, and throwing a career-high 124 pitches.
One-quarter of the way through the season, the Angels rank last in the major leagues in on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.649), 25th in runs (167) and 27th in extra-base hits. They’ve been held to three runs or less in 24 of 44 games.
Mike Trout (.301, 11 home runs, 25 RBIs) and Kole Calhoun (.287, 22 RBIs) are having strong seasons, David Freese has eight home runs and a team-leading 27 RBIs, and Erick Aybar has pushed his average from .204 to .274 this month.
But Pujols is hitting .229 with eight home runs and 16 RBIs, Matt Joyce is batting .165, C.J. Cron is hitting .204, Chris Iannetta needed a nine-for-22 streak to raise his average from .091 to .169, and Johnny Giavotella’s has dipped from .274 to .252 over the last week.
“We’re at .500, and we haven’t played anywhere near our potential,” Iannetta said. “We have guys who can really swing it, and we haven’t done that yet, at least, consistently, as a unit. When that starts happening, you can go on those streaks where you rattle off a few in a row.”
The question is whether the Angels have the personnel in-house to produce enough runs.
They’ve been particularly soft from the left side, and there has already been trade speculation, with Oakland’s Josh Reddick and Ben Zobrist, Cleveland’s Brandon Moss, Philadelphia’s Ben Revere and Milwaukee’s Adam Lind among the possible targets.
“We haven’t defined anything specific, but we’re scouting the landscape, as we always do,” General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. “It’s still very early as it relates to the trade market.”
The Angels broke out for a 12-5 win over Boston on Friday night, scoring nine runs in the fifth inning, but the outburst generated no momentum. Facing knuckleballer Steven Wright on Saturday and left-hander Wade Miley on Sunday, the Angels managed four runs and 10 hits in two losses.
Pujols scoffed when asked whether he was surprised there was no carry-over effect from Friday night.
“What do you think, we’re playing Nintendo here, and we’re going to score 13 runs every night?” he said.
Manager Mike Scioscia has juggled the batting order in an effort to spark the offense, but it doesn’t matter how the Angels line up if the majority of them aren’t hitting.
“All the things we need to create offense are not there on a consistent basis,” Scioscia said. “We have confidence in the guys on our roster and some of the guys on our depth chart, but they haven’t performed.”
Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna
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