Familiarity breeds success for Ian Kinsler in Angels’ 9-2 victory at Detroit
He was two for 27 on this Angels trip.
He began Tuesday with as many strikeouts in May as hits, 15 apiece.
His batting average was .179, the sort of small number that can oddly weigh plenty.
Ian Kinsler, a four-time All-Star, had been searching for something familiar. He found it at Comerica Park.
“It’s a comfortable place for me,” the former Detroit Tiger said. “The box is comfortable. A lot of good memories in that batter’s box.”
A few fresh ones, too, Kinsler homering in his first at-bat and adding two hits as the Angels’ offense awakened for a 9-2 victory.
His overdue contribution was matched by Luis Valbuena, who had three hits, including two home runs, to end a hitless streak at 21 at-bats.
“It gets a little weight off your shoulders,” he said. “I think this is one of the most dangerous lineups in the league. It’s going to be scary once everything clicks.”
On Monday, Kinsler called his season “super frustrating,” noting specifically the difficulty in not contributing when the team loses.
“I blame myself,” he said.
He was hitless in 13 at-bats before a seventh-inning single in the series opener. Then, in the second inning Tuesday, Kinsler unloaded.
Albert Pujols led off with a single, Andrelton Simmons walked and Valbuena lined a run-scoring single to center field.
That brought up Kinsler, who hit 50 home runs the last two seasons with the Tigers. As an Angel, though, he had homered twice, once since April 12.
On the eighth pitch of an at-bat that included four two-strike foul balls, Kinsler sent a Michael Fulmer (2-4) changeup over the fence in left field.
“Probably a little bit of a coincidence,” he said of the breakout moment coming in Detroit. “But it’s nice to do it here.”
With that one swing, Kinsler achieved half his RBI total for the year. He had been the only player in the majors with as many as 150 at-bats and as few as six RBIs.
“Definitely a relief,” he said. “Any time you can help the team win you feel a lot better taking the uniform off afterward.”
Valbuena hadn’t had an RBI since May 20, a hit since May 14 and a home run since May 1. All of those streaks ended in the first four innings.
After his second-inning single, Valbuena hit two solo home runs, the Angel famous for flipping his bat giving himself two reasons to demonstratively celebrate.
“It feels so good,” he said. “I’ve been coming in early, doing my routine, watching a lot of video.”
The Angels started a lineup that had only two hitters — Simmons and Mike Trout — batting better than .251. But they had four players finish with multiple hits and none of them was named Trout or Simmons.
Along with Valbuena and Kinsler, Pujols had three singles and Martin Maldonado had a two-run home run and a run-scoring single.
The victory brought with it historical significance as the 1,600th of Mike Scioscia’s managerial career, good for 20th all-time.
“We’ve had very good players here and I think it reflects on the strength of our organization, not necessarily on the strength of anything I’ve done,” Scioscia said. “I don’t look at it as a personal accomplishment at all.”
He had spent the previous three days tied at 1,599 with Tommy Lasorda, the only manager for whom Scioscia played in the majors.
“Just knowing what Tommy did for the Dodgers … what I’ve done, it pales,” Scioscia said. “What Tommy did for the Dodgers organization is really special. I certainly don’t put myself in that boat.”
Maybe not, but history certainly has them together.
Follow Jeff Miller on Twitter @JeffMillerMLB
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