Angels 12, White Sox 4 …
Angels starters put together a nice game on Thursday — perhaps the most complete game of a spring that had only produced three victories through the first 17 Cactus League contests.
The first three members of the lineup (Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols) combined to go 6-for-9 with five runs scored. The starting pitcher (Jason Vargas) gave up a run in 4 2/3 innings. And the Angels played a solid game defensively, which had eluded them most of the month.
“Some guys are starting to get into their 15th, 20th at-bat, and they’re starting to see the ball the way they should,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re swinging the bats well and running the bases well. We have to keep building from this, and as spring moves on, we have to keep building our bullpen and getting guys where they need. That’s going to be critical for us.”
Trout is in midseason form, it seems. He homered to lead off the game, just missed a homer his second time up — resulting in a double, which gave him an extra-base hit in four straight at-bats — and stole a base after reaching on a fielder’s choice in his last plate appearance. He’s batting .407 this spring.
Kendrick is on a tear, as he usually is this time a year, hitting a triple and a double to put his spring batting average at .485.
Pujols had a couple of singles in three at-bats, giving him a .429 clip, and ran for himself for the second straight day.
Vargas bounced back from a rough start against the Rockies, giving up a run on two hits while striking out five and putting his pitch count in the high 60’s in 4 2/3 innings. He liked the way his off-speed pitches were working.
Scott Downs gave up a solo homer to Dewayne Wise in the sixth, and though it was the only hit, he was hit hard in his lone frame of work.
Kevin Johnson, still vying for a bullpen spot, gave up two runs on four hits in the ninth.
Best play (that I saw)
The Angels made a couple of nifty catches on foul pop-ups to end the third inning. Hank Conger raced to the backstop, contorted his body and made the catch for out No. 2, and Alberto Callaspo reached over the dugout railing for out No. 3.
Vargas, on adjustments he made coming off an outing in which he allowed four runs in three innings to the Rockies: “I think that last start, I kept throwing fastballs and was really trying to get it down in the strike zone. I was leaving them up and getting hammered for it. We tried to work on that in the bullpen mid-week, and when the game comes it’s just trying to get them out.”