Resurgent Calhoun, Angels face Mariners in rubber match

To say Kole Calhoun was struggling would be an understatement.

When the Los Angeles Angels‘ right fielder was placed on the disabled list June 2 with a strained right oblique, he was in a 12-for-122 slump (.098), dropping his season average to .145.

“Every day is a new day,” Calhoun told the Orange County Register last week. “You’ve still got to go out and perform. I’m not thinking about it much honestly. I just want to go out and have a good game. Just going out and trying to help the team win.”

He did that Wednesday, going 3 for 5 with a home run and three RBIs as the Angels snapped the host Seattle Mariners‘ eight-game winning streak with a 7-4 victory. The teams wrap up their three-game series Thursday night at Safeco Field.

Calhoun has hit two home runs in his past three games after hitting just three in his previous 62. Since returning from the DL on June 18, he’s batting .306 (15-for-49) with three doubles, four home runs, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored.

That’s helped Calhoun raise his batting average to .180.

He even returned to the leadoff spot in the batting order last week in Baltimore, a spot he held in previous seasons.

“Kole has made some adjustments and hopefully it will pay off,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told The Register.

Scioscia said one key for Calhoun is he’s been more selective at the plate as of late.

“He’s had a good eye in previous years,” Scioscia said. “It’s been a part of his game, but it’s been elusive this year.”

The Angels will send rookie right-hander Jaime Barria (5-4, 3.40 ERA) to the mound Thursday in place of left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a right adductor strain. Barria suffered a 6-3 loss on June 12 at Seattle, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits in five innings.

The Mariners are scheduled to start left-hander Marco Gonzales (8-5, 3.77 ERA). Gonzales is 0-0 with a 4.66 ERA in four career starts against the Angels, including two earlier this season.

Gonzales is coming off his first career complete game in a 4-1 victory against Kansas City. Gonzales lost the shutout bid on Mike Moustakas’ two-strike, two-out single in the ninth inning.

“It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work this year and having the right guys behind me,” Gonzales said after his last start. “Those guys played incredible defense behind me and when your team gives you a lead in the first half of the game, you inch closer to eyeing the end. From the first inning I just had the mentality that this is my game and I’m going to go as deep as I can.”

Gonzales has been a big part of Seattle’s success this season after earning the No. 5 spot in the rotation this spring.

“He’s matured, there’s no question,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Gonzales. “It always works better when guys earn it. He has a lot of confidence right now because everything that’s happened this year, he’s earned. From coming into spring training, winning a spot in our rotation, he continues to build throughout the season.”