ANAHEIM – The Angels distributed promotional superhero capes to the fans on Friday.
They did not, just to be clear, distribute promotional superhero masks to the players, even if some of them might have preferred to sneak back into town unnoticed.
This team, which opened its latest homestand having dropped eight of nine overall, just lost six of seven on a trip during which it batted .181 and had 65 strikeouts compared to 40 hits.
Forget Superman, the Angels didn’t bat well enough to even be considered adequate, man.
“Hitting is probably the biggest wild card we have (in baseball),” Manager Mike Scioscia said Friday before his team faced Toronto. “Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason why a team might not be seeing the ball well as a group.”
On the road, whatever ball the Angels were seeing must have appeared to be the size of a Titleist. They scored five runs in the game they won and five total in the other six they lost.
So, that was 10 runs total in the span of a week. During that same stretch, there were nine instances of a team scoring at least 10 runs in one game alone.
Heck, the San Jose Sharks just scored seven times in a game, and that was during the Stanley Cup playoffs, which traditionally offer as much wiggle room as a pair of promotional superhero tights.
“Too many guys right now had a tough eight or nine games,” Scioscia said. “That can happen in June. That can happen in August. Right now, with some of these guys, it’s happening in April.”
And it’s happening again with Albert Pujols. The first two months of the season always have been the slowest offensively for Pujols, going back to the days when hitting merely .300 was considered slow for him.
In his first month as an Angel, in 2012, Pujols didn’t homer and had only four RBI. He had decent starts the next two seasons, before going flatter than home plate the past three years.
Starting with 2015, Pujols, in March/April regular-season games, has batted .208, .176 and, going into Friday’s series opener against the Blue Jays, .177.
“Historically, he’s a little bit of a slow starter,” Scioscia admitted. “But once he finds it, he usually keeps it for a long time.”
It is true that Pujols has remained productive this month, his bases-loaded double in the third inning Friday giving him more RBI (14) than hits (13).
It also is true, history says, that he’ll heat up and finish with numbers vastly presentable, if not overly inspiring.
Yet, it’s worth wondering how much anyone’s statistics will mean if the Angels are again accumulating them all summer while too buried in the standings for the rest of baseball to care.
Nobody’s expecting this team to contend for much more this season than the occasional Mike Trout national highlight. Almost as much as “Angels,” this group has “also ran” written across its chest.
But pitching – specifically starting pitching – was supposed to be the issue. Instead, the Angels just failed to take…