Reporting from Arlington, Texas — You can blame it on injuries, credit it to talent or split the difference and say both had something to do with it.
But whatever the reasons, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia has grown comfortable with a lineup that includes rookies at catcher and first base, a center fielder who came into the season with just 62 days of big league experience and a closer who hadn’t pitched in relief until last April.
“There’s a lot of youth on that field,” Scioscia said. “The bottom line is not to look at the number next to that experience column. It’s what can a player do now.
“When you see talent … you’ll go with it.”
And so far, the kids are all right — as they showed Tuesday when rookies Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger and center fielder Peter Bourjos combined for nine hits, two home runs, seven runs scored and nine runs batted in to hand the Texas Rangers their first loss of the season at home, 15-4.
“It’s all about competing. And I think the more that you’re able to do that, the more quality at-bats you’re going to have and the more productive you’re going to be in the long run,” said Trumbo, who leads major league rookies in hits (18), homers (three), doubles (five), runs (nine) and total bases (32).
And to think, if Kendrys Morales’ ankle had healed more quickly, Trumbo would have started the season in Salt Lake City. Instead, he’s proved so competent in the big leagues his home run Tuesday — which snapped a 1-1 tie in the fourth — came on a 3-0 pitch, a count in which rookies generally don’t get the green light.
“I didn’t really think about it at the time, but now that I do, it’s pretty cool,” said Trumbo, who finished a triple shy of the cycle while driving in a career-best four runs.
Bourjos, at 24 the veteran of the Baby Brigade, said comfort and confidence have helped spur his teammates’ success.
“I was always anxious and I didn’t relax at all last year,” said Bourjos, who is batting .293. “You get the opportunity, you take advantage of it. And they’re definitely doing that right now. The things they’re doing now are just unbelievable.”
Like helping the Angels score 15 runs, the most the team has scored in a game since August 2009. And they came in support of right-hander Matt Palmer, who was making just his 19th big-league start — something he too can credit to injuries, which have crippled the Angels rotation.
Not that Palmer needed much help, holding the Rangers to a run and three hits in six innings as the Angels won for the eighth time in 10 games, the best record in baseball over that stretch. But all that offense did keep closer Jordan Walden, the only Angels reliever yet to allow a run, in the bullpen.
“It sounds cliche but if you’re a young ‘un, you’ve still got to try to prove yourself every day,” said Conger, who lifted his average to .333. “I didn’t even know I was going to make this team coming out of spring [training]. It makes it a lot easier when it’s three of us.
“It’s tough for me to explain, but it makes it a lot easier because we’re always talking to each other and helping each other out.”