Re­order point is reached

Scios­cia shuf­fles lineup, puts Pu­jols in cleanup spot in hopes of spark­ing of­fense.

Los Angeles Times - - BASEBALL - By Mike DiGiovanna

When Mike Scios­cia fills out his lineup card, he feels like a house pain­ter short on sup­plies.

“We’ve got five holes in our wall and enough spackle for three holes,” the An­gels man­ager said be­fore Tues­day night’s 4-1 vic­tory over the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs. “Which ones do you want to fill?”

With that in mind, Scios­cia re­ar­ranged the top of his or­der again, yield­ing to the con­fig­u­ra­tion he has re­sisted since slug­ger Al­bert Pu­jols signed with the An­gels be­fore 2012.

Mike Trout moved from sec­ond to third, and Pu­jols, who hit third in all 473 games he started for the An­gels be­fore Tues­day, moved to cleanup, a spot he made 239 ca­reer starts at in 15 years, none since 2010. Kole Cal­houn went from cleanup to sec­ond, be­hind lead­off man Erick Ay­bar.

“It’s very ev­i­dent that the group­ings we have now have been in­ef­fec­tive, not so much be­cause [Trout and Pu­jols] are hit­ting sec­ond and third, but it’s just some­thing we have to try,” Scios­cia said. “If we can get guys on base ahead of them ear­lier in games, maybe it’ll help spark some things.”

The new or­der didn’t pro­duce a break­out game Tues­day — the An­gels man­aged eight hits, they failed to put a lead­off man on base and had only three at-bats, and no hits, with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion.

But Trout and Pu­jols looked com­fort­able in their new spots, Trout draw­ing a two-out walk in the sixth in­ning and Pu­jols fol­low­ing with a tow­er­ing two-run home run to cen­ter field to give the An­gels a 2-1 lead.

No. 5 hitter David Freese added two big in­sur­ance runs in the eighth when he drove a two-run homer to right, his 10th of the sea­son.

“We got some clutch hits from guys who are im­por­tant to us … but the new lineup wasn’t a fac­tor,” Scios­cia said. “We didn’t get much go­ing. We didn’t have a lead­off run­ner on all night, and that’s a tough way to go. We’ll con­tinue to move for­ward, try to find so­lu­tions and see if we can put more pres­sure on teams.”

Cal­houn, Trout and Pu­jols are not the prob­lem. They have been the most con­sis­tent and pro­duc­tive hit­ters in an of­fense that ranks 25th in the ma­jor leagues with a .681 OPS (on­base-plus-slug­ging per­cent­age) de­spite hit­ting 27 homers in the last 19 games and 22nd in runs per game (3.92).

But there has been a clif­flike drop af­ter the fourth and fifth spots, with Freese pro­vid­ing power and some clutch hits (34 runs bat­ted in) while hit­ting .241, and Matt Joyce (.181) and Chris Ian­netta (.159) pro­vid­ing very lit­tle.

Putting Ay­bar and Cal­houn in front of Trout (18 homers, 39 RBIs) and Pu­jols (Amer­i­can League-lead­ing 19 homers, 36 RBIs) could cre­ate more RBI op­por­tu­ni­ties, “es­pe­cially early in the game,” Scios­cia said. “Our goal is to lengthen our lineup and set the ta­ble for the guys in the mid­dle bet­ter.

“I think our best lineup con­nects Kole, Mike and Al­bert. This ac­com­plishes that, and if Erick can get hot, he can be a spark at the top.”

A player who drops one spot in the lineup will get roughly 19 fewer plate ap­pear­ances in a sea­son. With the An­gels 65 games in, that amounts to about 10 fewer plate ap­pear­ances for Trout and Pu­jols if the An­gels stick with this lineup.

“That’s min­i­mal com­pared to what we need,” Scios­cia said. “The hope is that this will cre­ate more qual­ity sit­u­a­tions for them. That’s some­thing we weighed very heav­ily. The feel­ing was unan­i­mous that we need to try to ad­just some things.”

Scios­cia in­formed Trout, Pu­jols and Cal­houn of the changes Tues­day af­ter­noon.

“He’s try­ing to shake things up a lit­tle bit,” said Trout, who has hit third when Pu­jols is hurt. “I’m go­ing to get some more RBI op­por­tu­ni­ties, for sure.”

Cal­houn hopes the switch sparks the of­fense.

“I’m up for it,” he said. “Let’s see how it goes. If some­thing sticks, we’ll stay with it. I just want to get on base for those guys.” Twit­ter: @MikeDi­Gio­vanna

Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

AN­GELS PLAY­ERS, from left, Daniel Robert­son, Mike Trout, Kole Cal­houn and Erick Ay­bar celebrate their 4-1 vic­tory over Ari­zona. The new or­der didn’t pro­duce a break­out game, but key play­ers looked com­fort­able.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.