LOS ANGELES -- Prominent among Angels hitters who have found their swagger of late is shortstop Erick Aybar, who has batted .333 on the "Four Corners" road tour of both coasts, which is winding down at Dodger Stadium.Aybar's two-run homer was one of the big blows in Friday night's 8-3 victory, following an RBI double by leadoff man Maicer Izturis in a pivotal third inning. Aybar is an aggressive hitter, at his best when he's using the whole field to take advantage of his blinding speed. The homer was his fourth -- one shy of his career best -- and he owns 30 RBIs. Asked if Aybar has evolved to a point where he no longer needs to be reminded after a big fly that he's not a power hitter, manager Mike Scioscia grinned. "Yes, he has, but we still do it." Aybar's total game is evolving. He leads the Angels with 15 steals in 17 attempts and has a .983 fielding percentage, fifth among American League shortstops. He has few peers in range and arm strength. "Erick is really comfortable right now," Scioscia said. "He's playing terrific baseball."
Torii taking cautious approach with sore ribs
LOS ANGELES -- Angels right fielder Torii Hunter spent most of Saturday morning in the trainer's room, getting treatment on a rib contusion suffered making a spectacular catch on Wednesday night in Miami against the Marlins.His streak of having played every game ended at 76 on Friday night, and it's unknown when he'll be back in the lineup. Even he doesn't know. "Still pretty sore," he said, grinning. "We'll see how it goes. You know me: I want to be out there now. But you have to be smart with these injuries. Come back too soon, and you might regret it." In 2009, in the midst of his best season offensively, Hunter crashed into walls at Dodger Stadium on May 22 and then at San Francisco on June 15. He sat one game and then played on until July 7, when he could no longer fight through the pain. Missing almost six weeks, he still put together superb numbers, driving in 90 runs with 22 homers and a .299 batting average. But he'll always wonder what would have happened if he hadn't missed that chunk of the season. "It would've been my best year, no doubt," he said. "It was still a good year. But I think I could have had career highs in just about everything." When he collided with the wall in May 2009, robbing the Dodgers' Matt Kemp of extra bases in center field, Hunter was among the American League leaders in multiple categories. He was hitting .319 with a .616 slugging mark and 1.013 OPS (on-base plus slugging). Angels manager Mike Scioscia knows he has to be careful monitoring Hunter, who actually wanted to stay in the game in Florida after he finally got to a sitting position after being down for four minutes. "When you damage a muscle around your oblique, it might be a little tight," Scioscia said. "If you pop that thing, you might miss six or eight weeks. If he admits he's sore, you know he's sore."
Angels continue to be force on the road
LOS ANGELES -- With their power-packed victory in Friday's confrontation with the Dodgers, their geographical rivals, the Angels fortified their reputation as Major League Baseball's preeminent road warriors.Only the Rays, with 24 road wins this season, have more than the Angels, who are 23-19 away from Angel Stadium and 15-20 in their friendly confines. In the Mike Scioscia era, dating to 2000, the Angels have the best record in the Majors in Interleague Play: 125-82. Since 2005, Scioscia's troupe has a Major League-high 335 road wins -- eight more than the Phillies and 10 more than the Yankees.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
In their past 12 dates at Dodger Stadium, Scioscia's first big league home, the Angels have made themselves right at home with nine happy endings. They are 42-25 overall against the Dodgers during Scioscia's run.Even on a night when they run into six outs, as they did on Friday, the Angels found ways to frustrate the blue crew. They did it with power (homers by Erick Aybar and Howard Kendrick) and balanced production top to bottom, starting with a combined five hits by Maicer Izturis and Aybar in the first two spots in the order. "We're doing a lot of things we need to do," Scioscia said of an offense that has produced double figures in hits (57 total) for five consecutive games. "In Florida, we were 2-for-26 in two games with runners in scoring position, but other than that, we've been doing a better job with situational hitting. We're also driving the ball better now." Scioscia acknowledges that the goal in a few days will be taking this road muscle home, where the Angels have struggled offensively all season. One of the reasons is clearly all the new personnel being integrated into the lineup. Of the nine starters in Saturday's game, six were not with the Angels at this time last year. Only the top three -- Aybar, Kendrick and Bobby Abreu -- were in the clubhouse last June. "A lot of guys are trying to get comfortable in a lot of ballparks, including our own," Scioscia said. "We're talking about the young guys -- Peter [Bourjos], Mark [Trumbo], Hank [Conger] -- and also guys like Vernon [Wells] who are trying to get comfortable in our park."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.