ANAHEIM, Calif. — After a road trip that was nothing short of disastrous, the Angels returned home Friday night hoping to put the bad memories behind them.
They needed to. Going 3-7 on a 10-game trip and being swept by the first-place Oakland A’s was not the kind of stretch to build confidence. But they got some of it back against the Chicago White Sox.
Starting pitcher Jered Weaver got outs when he had to have them. They Angels scored five runs in the fourth inning, and the offense came alive with 11 hits, including home runs from Kole Calhoun and Albert Pujols.
So their 8-4 win over the White Sox was a perfect antidote to an ugly road trip.
"It was obviously a frustrating road trip," Weaver said. "It was a long one — felt like six months we were on the road. I wanted to come out and set the tone and spark a little fire.â
He did, but so did Calhoun, who led off the bottom of the first with a homer, and the rest of the offense, which produced four consecutive two-out hits with men on base in the fourth inning off Chicago starter Andre Rienzo.
The result was a comfortable lead for Weaver and a breakout game for an offense that was too quiet during portions of their road swing.
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So was it returning home that brought a level of comfort or simply good hitters getting hot together?
"I don’t know if we have to look at the reason why," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We’re happy it was here tonight, and hopefully it continues. These guys are good offensive players."
There were contributions up and down the lineup. Josh Hamilton had two hits and drove a pitch to the warning track in left-center. C.J. Cron continued to prove he has earned playing time with a two-run double in the fourth. Calhoun drove in three runs, and Pujols, who was just 5 for 35 on the trip, hit his 15th homer of the season in the eighth.
Hamilton’s night was encouraging since it came in only his fourth game back after missing 48 games with a torn ligament in his left thumb. With Mike Trout, Pujols and Hamilton on the field at the same time, the heart of the Angels’ lineup is as potent as any in the American League.
"There’s a comfort level he’s at in the batter’s box from spring training on," Scioscia said of Hamilton, who is hitting .357. "He carried it on into the first week in the season. When he when down to Triple-A to get some at-bats (on a rehab assignment), the comfort zone appeared again. He’s on pitches."
And then there was Weaver, who struggled at times but got outs when he needed them. None was bigger than a two-seam fastball he threw to slugger Adam Dunn in the third for a called strike three with the bases loaded.
Weaver threw 109 pitches over six innings, walked four and hit a batter. His control wasn’t sharp, but he had a 7-2 lead when he turned the game over to the bullpen.
"We knew coming in these guys were swinging the bats good," he said. "Maybe I was trying to be too fine at times and trying not to leave stuff over the plate. Obviously, I threw too many pitches early on, but I was battling to make pitches when I needed to."
While Scioscia didn’t want to make too much of coming home, there’s no doubt Weaver is throwing well at Angel Stadium. In his past five home starts, he has a 2.05 ERA in 35 1/3 innings.