Sports

Angels need to find their bats

Los Angeles Angels' Hideki Matsui, from Japan, singles off of Oakland Athletics' Trevor Cahill in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, July 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Los Angeles Angels' Hideki Matsui, from Japan, singles off of Oakland Athletics' Trevor Cahill in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, July 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) AP

ANAHEIM — After Torii Hunter spent the past 48 hours shaking hands, hosting parties and generally serving as the Angels’ unofficial host of the All-Star game, the Los Angeles outfielder was more than ready to get back to his day job.

“I had about 30 family members here, and they don’t believe in sleep,” Hunter said. “I was up at 7 in the morning every day. I thought this was the All-Star break, man.”

While the All-Star festivities were a big success, the Angels’ quest for a fourth straight AL West title could be in trouble if Hunter and his teammates don’t get it going soon. The Angels, who open the second half at home with a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners, lost six of seven leading into the break, getting outscored 44-14 on a road trip to Chicago and Oakland before the break.

“Hopefully guys weren’t even watching the game,” Hunter said Tuesday night after going 0 for 2 at Angel Stadium. “Hopefully they were just relaxing on the beach, taking a step back from the game and getting ready to come back.”

Los Angeles entered the break at 47-44, trailing the first-place Texas Rangers by 41⁄2 games in the AL West standings. The deficit would have been even worse if Texas hadn’t lost four straight to lowly Baltimore before the break.

Hunter is the Angels’ clubhouse leader, but he also has been the most potent offensive force in a lineup that could use a little more pop — either through improved efforts or a trade.

After Los Angeles led the majors in multiple offensive categories for long stretches of last season, the bats aren’t helping out a solid starting rotation. The Angels fielded a lineup with nine .300 hitters in August last season, but nobody on their current roster is hitting .300.

“We have to all come together,” said Hunter, batting .298 with 15 homers and 62 RBI. “Some guys need to step up. I need to step up. We can make it happen. Every team has that dry spell. We had it in the last week, but we can get back.”

The Angels have won five of the past six division titles, but this season hasn’t seemed terribly promising for a lineup that still hasn’t recovered from the offseason departure of leadoff hitter Chone Figgins and longtime slugger Vladimir Guerrero.

So far, the Angels’ season has been most memorable for two reasons: The All-Star Game, and one of the wackiest serious injuries in baseball history.

Kendry Morales, the Angels’ slugging Cuban first baseman, was lost for the year when he broke his leg jumping on home plate after a game-ending grand slam against Seattle on May 29.

The injury will go down in sports infamy, but it isn’t making the Angels laugh just yet.

“We’ve played well since then,” said ace Jered Weaver, who made his first All-Star Game but wasn’t allowed to pitch because he had been on the mound Sunday in Oakland.

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