NEW YORK -- Sunday was only the ninth game of the Angels' season -- and it featured the eighth different starting lineup.For the series finale at Yankee Stadium, Maicer Izturis got his first start at third base, with Mark Trumbo getting in his second game at designated hitter, Bobby Abreu playing for the fourth time and Peter Bourjos and Kendrys Morales getting the night off. The Angels ranked 13th in the Majors in lineup combinations last year, but came into Sunday's game tied for fifth. That's partly due to the amount of depth manager Mike Scioscia has on his bench and partly due to the early struggles from so many of the starters. Scioscia has been consistent with a few groupings in his lineup. Like the top three of Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols, respectively. And Morales and Torii Hunter batting fourth and fifth, respectively, against right-handed pitching (minus Morales' off-day Sunday). For now, though, everything else continues to get scrambled. "You can wish all you want about the lineup," Scioscia said, "but you have to just take a pragmatic approach and look at it [with] what's good on this day and what's good with the long term, as to how you're matching up and what you're doing. "There's some groupings that really have a potential to work, and we want to play that out. And if we get things settled, and some guys swing to their capabilities, then we will most likely be able to minimize the need to match up so much." Through the first eight games, an Angels lineup that was expected to be deeper and more productive ranks in the middle of the pack in basically every offensive category, with Pujols, Morales, Bourjos, Hunter, Aybar, Alberto Callaspo and Vernon Wells going through varying degrees of struggles. Which begs the question -- are the struggles caused by the constant lineup changes, or are the constant lineup changes caused by the struggles? Wells believes it's the latter. "It's just a matter of everyone else fitting into our roles and being consistent," Wells said. "We haven't been consistent out there, so we can't ask for him to be consistent with the lineup unless we do our part. He's always been a guy who tinkers with the lineup and tries to find out what works best. But this has the potential of being the most complete lineup that he's had, so it's just a matter of us doing our parts."
Pujols' power outage heads back to Anaheim
NEW YORK -- It's now a pretty good bet that Albert Pujols' first homer with the Angels will come at home.That's the good thing. The bad thing, of course, is that Pujols has now gone nine games without hitting his first home run of the season, which now represents the longest such stretch of his career. The previous high came in 2008, when Pujols went homerless in his first eight games. Asked prior to Sunday's game when he'd go deep for the first time, Pujols said in Spanish: "When God wants." "Maybe tonight, maybe a month from now," he added while addressing the Spanish media at Yankee Stadium. "... If the ball goes out, it goes out. If not, oh well. That's part of the game. I'm not going to go out there and try to hit the ball out. In practice you can try to hit the ball out and it's still hard. Imagine in the games. You can't think about home runs. You have to think about seeing the ball and trying to put a good swing on it. You can hit one, and then you have five or six that same week. Home runs come in bunches, so I don't worry about that. I've been in this situation before." Pujols went 1-for-5 on Sunday, connecting on an RBI single, lining out to shortstop, grounding out to third base and striking out twice. His batting average now sits at .243. The Angels begin a seven-game homestand against the Athletics and Orioles on Monday.
Angels dealing with rough travel schedule
NEW YORK -- West Coast teams tend to have the most strenuous schedules. What the Angels are facing now, though, takes that to a whole new level, with a night game in New York on Sunday and another night game all the way back in Anaheim on Monday.Under circumstances like these, Sunday's game would normally be played during the day. But the Angels -- with Albert Pujols at first and championship aspirations throughout -- now have a lot more national appeal, with 10 national TV games already booked, and being part of ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" telecast required an 8:05 p.m. ET start time. So, manager Mike Scioscia sent Monday starter Jered Weaver and Tuesday starter Dan Haren home a day early to get some rest. "This is obviously tough," Scioscia said. "It's just what you deal with on West Coast travel. It is what it is. We'll be ready to play." The Angels also played six of their first eight games during the day. Not easy. But, as Scioscia added, "Nothing out of the ordinary. It's just the season."
Wells shrugs off 250th home run
NEW YORK -- Vernon Wells didn't know he hit the 250th home run of his career on Saturday until he walked into the dugout and a teammate told him.To him, the milestone meant little to nothing. "It is a round number," Wells said, before shrugging it off. "Individual stuff is meaningless at this point. It's just a matter of winning. Whatever comes during that process is great. But individual stuff loses its value after a while." With Wells' homer, the Angels joined the Yankees as the only team with four players on its active roster with at least 250 career homers. Torii Hunter, Albert Pujols and Bobby Abreu are the others on the Angels, with Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez making up the Yankees' quartet. Wells, batting .233 heading into the series finale, did keep the ball, which will be put in his display case along with roughly 75 others -- a mix of personal milestones and autographs of his favorite players. His favorite ball from that collection was autographed by Willie Mays, who signed it after Wells met him at Yankee Stadium a few years back. "That's been the ball that's actually lasted me the longest," Wells said.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.