Jason Vargas knows that whenever the Los Angeles Angels’ lineup puts up an eye-popping performance befitting all of its money and talent, their starting pitcher’s job becomes a whole lot easier.
And though Vargas didn’t need all the help he got Monday night, he thinks the Angels’ latest offensive barrage means smoother days ahead for an up-and-down club.
Albert Pujols had an RBI double among his four hits, Josh Hamilton hit a two-run homer, and Los Angeles pounded out a season-high 21 hits in an 11-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Alberto Callaspo matched his career high with four hits, driving in two runs during the Angels’ seven-run sixth inning. Peter Bourjos had three hits as Los Angeles battered Aaron Harang (3-7) and the Seattle bullpen in its fourth victory in five games.
The Angels made it comfortable for Vargas (6-4), who yielded four hits and recorded a season-high nine strikeouts in seven strong innings while beating his former teammates.
”You definitely don’t want to take the runs for granted,” said Vargas, acquired from Seattle in an offseason trade. ”We know we’re definitely capable of putting up some offense every night. This was a carry-over from what we did in the ninth inning (Sunday).”
Indeed, the Angels picked up right where they left off with a five-run rally that fell just short in a 6-5 loss to the Yankees. Pujols, who struck out with the bases loaded to end it, had hits in his first four at-bats against Seattle.
Howie Kendrick and Mike Trout drove in early runs as the Angels got a hit from all nine spots in their big-budget lineup for their biggest hit total since August 2009. Los Angeles has 67 hits and 36 runs in its last five games after its first 20-hit performance in a nine-inning game since 2008.
”I don’t know if we’re going to get it every night, but 21 hits is a good breakout game for us coming off a good ninth inning Sunday,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Trout also scored his 200th career run in the sixth, reaching the milestone in just 249 games – the quickest major leaguer to the mark since 1940. Only seven players since 1916 reached 200 runs more quickly than last season’s AL Rookie of the Year, and five of those players are in the Hall of Fame, including Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Lloyd Waner.
”It felt like what other teams have been doing to us lately, (but) tonight we came out swinging,” Trout said.
Erick Aybar and Chris Iannetta had run-scoring singles for the Angels during the sixth, and they both scored on Nick Franklin’s throwing error on Trout’s bases-loaded grounder. Callaspo also had a two-run single in the sixth while emphatically snapping a 10-for-64 skid.
Even Brendan Harris snapped an 0-for-24 skid with a pinch-hit single in the seventh. Los Angeles had its first 20-hit game since last Aug. 23 at Boston, and seven Angels drove in a run.
Franklin hit an early two-run homer for Seattle in the opener of a four-game AL West series.
The Angels pounded out eight hits and four runs in the first two innings against Harang, who threw a two-hitter against Houston in his previous start. Harang yielded 12 hits and four runs in five innings before the Angels beat up on Seattle relievers Carter Capps and Charlie Furbush in the sixth.
”They have guys throughout their lineup that can run, and it changes the whole aspect of the game and changes the way you have to pitch to guys,” Harang said.
Kendrick, who has been batting around .500 in June, had an RBI double to right field in the first inning, scoring Hamilton. After Trout’s long sacrifice fly brought home Callaspo in the second, Hamilton hit his two-run shot to the trees beyond center field, where a leaping Michael Saunders got his glove on the ball, but couldn’t haul it in.
”They had quite a few hits in a short period of time, and (Harang) was fortunate to get out of there with just four runs,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
After Endy Chavez got the Mariners’ first hit, Franklin connected for his third homer.
Vargas didn’t allow another runner past first base, and the Angels put it out of reach while sending 12 batters to the plate in the sixth.
NOTES: Los Angeles had 18 singles for just the third time in team history, and the first since May 7, 1978. … Vargas improved to 8-2 in his career at the Big A, his best winning percentage at any ballpark where he’s made at least three starts. … Aybar, the Angels’ former Gold Glove shortstop, booted a routine grounder in the second inning for Los Angeles’ MLB-worst 54th error. The Angels have committed an error in 10 straight games. … Seattle RF Jason Bay sat out the series opener with a sore hamstring. The veteran outfielder’s leg tightened up during Sunday’s game in Oakland. … Pujols hit a 390-foot line drive off the wall in deep center field in the second inning, but the burly $240 million slugger only managed a single.