Albert Pujols has been playing major league baseball long enough -- 16 years, to be exact -- to know that some things are almost impossible to explain.
Like how the Angels could score 36 runs in five games, including Monday night’s 7-6 victory over the Dodgers, after scoring only 24 runs in their previous eight games, six of them losses to Tampa Bay and St. Louis at home last week.
“Sometimes teams go through tough stretches -- that’s how it goes,” Pujols said after he and Mike Trout combined to go five for eight with five runs batted in Monday night.
“I wish I had a magic ball to figure out why, but we don’t. Sometimes it happens for a reason, to make us tough, to make us a better team, to come together ... who knows?”
The Angels were in a deep funk last week, scoring eight runs and going three for 30 with runners in scoring position in five losses to the Rays and Cardinals, a slump that began right about the time the team learned its best pitcher, Garrett Richards, had suffered a major elbow injury.
But the Angels turned a corner offensively in a 12-10 loss to the Cardinals last Thursday night, racking up 15 hits, including two homers, and almost erased a five-run ninth-inning deficit.
The bats stayed warm in Seattle over the weekend, the Angels accumulating 19 runs and 35 hits, including five homers, in a three-game sweep that moved them to within five games of the first-place Mariners in the American League West.
“Over the course of 162 games, you’re going to have ups and downs, and the teams that survive, that make it, are the teams that are physically and mentally strong and don’t let those things bother you,” Pujols said. “We know we can put a good streak together, and we still have a lot of baseball left.”
Trout and Pujols each had a hand in the team’s four-run third inning and three-run seventh inning Monday night.
Carlos Perez doubled to left-center to open the third and scored on Gregorio Petit’s one-out single to left off starter Kenta Maeda. Yunel Escobar singled, Kole Calhoun walked to load the bases, and Trout grounded a two-run single to left. Pujols’ RBI single to center gave the Angels a 4-2 lead.
Escobar and Calhoun singled to open the seventh off Pedro Baez, and Trout walked to load the bases. Pujols followed with a two-run single to center, and Johnny Giavotella added a sacrifice fly to give the Angels a 7-3 lead.
The Angels, who have won four straight, went six for 16 with runners in scoring position.
“We set the table all night -- Yunel and Kole got on base a lot,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “And those guys,” he added, referring to Trout and Pujols, “when they got some guys on base, they hit the ball hard.”