Major League Baseball
Aybar keys Angels' sweep of doubleheader
Major League Baseball

Aybar keys Angels' sweep of doubleheader

Published Jul. 22, 2009 7:33 a.m. ET

The Los Angeles Angels haven't missed a beat without Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter. Players once at the bottom of the order or buried on the bench have filled the gaps left by their injured teammates, keeping the Angels atop the AL West.

No one has been better at it than Erick Aybar.

Aybar broke open a close game with a three-run triple and had seven hits in two games Tuesday, helping the Los Angeles Angels complete a doubleheader sweep with a 10-2 win over the hapless Kansas City Royals.

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Aybar used his bat and legs to lift the Angels to an 8-5 win in the opener, with three hits, three runs and an RBI. He did all the damage with his bat in the nightcap, as his bases-loaded triple off Juan Cruz started the Angels' seven-run seventh inning.

Aybar went 7-for-9 in the doubleheader and has eight RBIs the past four games.

"The ceiling everybody saw is there and it's great to see a young player get comfortable and show the talent he's shown in the minor leagues," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's getting comfortable and hopefully we'll see that talent continue to progress."

Aybar bounced between the majors and minors his first three seasons before getting a shot at being the Angels' fulltime shortstop after Orlando Cabrera was traded. He's flourished in the role, using early work in the batting cages to hone his talent, lifting his average to .315 this season - 53 points higher than his career average.

Aybar has been at his best with Guerrero and Hunter on the DL and Juan Cruz nursing a tight hamstring, hitting .490 this month, including 24-for-43 the past 11 games.

"The chance to play every day was there, even though it wasn't a guarantee, but I knew that coming out early, taking care of what I needed to would give me a better chance at success," Aybar said through a translator.

The Angels had 25 combined hits, winning for the ninth time in 10 games.

Bobby Abreu had three doubles and drove in three runs in the second game, and Robb Quinlan hit first homer since May 4, 2008, against Baltimore. Gary Matthews Jr. and Reggie Willits drove in two runs each in the opener and Kendry Morales had two hits to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 19 games.


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