Angels’ new outfield platoon isn’t a force as of yet

David Murphy

Angels outfielder David Murphy flips his bat after striking out against the Dodgers on July 31.

(Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

David Murphy, you’ve just been traded to the Angels, immediately experienced five consecutive losses and started off four for 23. What are you going to do next?
Go to Disneyland, of course.

When the Angels hit their first off day on Thursday since the trade deadline, their newest additions were sputtering. The outfield platoon — Murphy, David DeJesus and Shane Victorino — had just seven hits in 52 at-bats and one run batted in.

Manager Mike Scioscia has said repeatedly that the Angels are a better team than a month ago, referring to the added players. He said it again Saturday after a 5-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

But it has been a stressful start, so, on that off day, Murphy took a break. He went with his wife and four young kids to the place you go if you’re in Anaheim and need to relax. They went to ride some roller coasters.

The unwinding worked Friday. Both he and DeJesus made their first significant contributions as Angels. Murphy was two for four with an RBI and a run. DeJesus knocked in a run that gave the Angels some breathing room in the sixth inning. The Angels could use more days like that. Saturday was another hitless night for the outfield platoon, which is under more pressure to produce as the playoff race tightens.

“I know that they’ve been chomping at the bit to contribute,” Scioscia said.

Murphy said his teammates have been welcoming, and why not? Angels left fielders were hovering near .200, with five home runs. Any help was greeted warmly.

Still, Murphy said, it is difficult to feel part of the team, especially when you’ve yet to produce.

“Basically, you’re an outsider,” he said.

The deadline acquisitions were intended to provide an immediate injection of offense, especially given their place in the lineup. Victorino and DeJesus have been leading off. Murphy has typically batted fifth, right behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

With that comes pressure to perform.

Switching teams comes with other stresses, Murphy said: moving, arranging for new schools, if necessary, and learning a new division’s pitching. And, because interim General Manager Bill Stoneman opted for depth over trading top prospects for a star, the players have had to share playing time.
All have platooned before in their careers, and Murphy said it was not a problem. But it means none have settled into a rhythm. Victorino, for instance, has played in consecutive games only once with the Angels. (Starting on Monday, the Angels will face three left-handed pitchers in a row, meaning Victorino should see more regular playing time.)

Through the rough start, Scioscia has maintained, “These guys are good ballplayers, that just “haven’t really shown it yet.”

The day off provided a needed respite.

“I felt little more relaxed, and things were a little slower up there,” Murphy said. “You feel part of the team a little bit more.”

Nobody mustered much against Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who went eight innings and gave up two hits. Their first hit did not come until there were two outs in the sixth inning, when Calhoun doubled.
Right-hander Garrett Richards gave up a run in the third inning, on a fielder’s choice by Adam Jones that scored Manny Machado. Then in the fifth, Machado hit a home run. In the sixth, Jonathan Schoop’s sacrifice fly scored Chris Davis.

Another Schoop sacrifice fly and a home run by Caleb Joseph after Richards exited gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead.

“On to the next one,” a frustrated Richards said. “Work starts tomorrow. That’s it. That’s all I got.”

Richards lasted six innings, giving up up seven hits and three runs, and he struck out seven.

The Angels’ shoddy defense did not help Richards. Twice, the infield failed to cover second base, allowing a runner to advance. Johnny Giavotella took a poor route to a pop fly to shallow right field, which Joseph turned into a double. In the sixth inning, Richards missed tagging the base while covering first.
Up next

Right-hander Jered Weaver (4-8, 4.75 earned-run average) will face Baltimore right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (9-8, 4.32) at Angel Stadium on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. TV: FS West; Radio: 710, 830, 1330.