Kendrick keeps self in the show
Rookie's three hits stave off demotion
BY DOUG PADILLA, Staff Writer
ANAHEIM - It is one thing to deliver in the clutch with the game on the line.
Howie Kendrick came through Sunday with his roster spot in jeopardy as well.
Kendrick had three hits, including the go-ahead RBI in the eighth inning, as the Angels completed their second sweep in their past three series with a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Angel Stadium.
With the Angels needing a roster spot for Dustin Moseley, who will make his major- league debut on the mound tonight, the decision on whom to send out was down to Erick Aybar and Kendrick. Aybar will suit up with Triple-A Salt Lake tonight in Fresno.
Kendrick finally had a day in the major leagues that matched his eye-popping numbers in the minors. His three hits Sunday matched his total output in 10games earlier this season with the Angels.
"I just felt a little better this time because I knew what to expect coming in," said Kendrick, who was recalled Friday and sat on the bench the first two nights after his return. "The experience the first time was a teacher to me. I learned a lot of things from that, and I took them down to the minor leagues, and I got a lot better at them. Hopefully, I'll stay that way."
The biggest lesson Kendrick learned was to be patient. That is how he fashioned a .369 batting average at Triple-A with 13 home runs and 62 RBIs in 69 games.
"When he came up, I think he thought he had to hit every pitch and hit it hard," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He was expanding his zone. He just has a great knack to be able to square up the baseball. But he has to get pitches he can handle to do that."
Kendrick took what was given to him Sunday. His first hit was an opposite-field double to right in the fifth inning, and he later scored. In the sixthinning, he delivered an RBI double to right-center.
After the Devil Rays tied the score 5-5 with the assistance of an error by Chone Figgins in center field, Kendrick again was clutch in the eighth. A wild pitch moved pinch-runner Aybar to second before Kendrick lashed an RBI single into left. He scored when Jose Molina followed with a double.
"I was just trying to work up the middle, and that's what I normally do," Kendrick said. "I just kind of got away from that for a while and it just feels good to be comfortable. I had a few days off for the All-Star break and I feel refreshed."
Kendrick had two All-Star experiences this season. He played in the Futures Game in Pittsburgh on July 10 and the Triple-A All-Star Game last week.
Kendrick was a combined 0 for 5 in the two games, but found Devil Rays pitching much more accommodating.
"The first time (in the major leagues), you're running (off) adrenaline but this time, I'm excited to be here and I'm glad to be here," Kendrick said. "I'm just a little more comfortable and a little more at ease about it."
Also at ease with some changes has been Bartolo Colon, who had a second consecutive impressive outing, although he was not involved in the decision. After a shutout against Seattle in his final start before the break, Colon started his second half by allowing three runs on seven hits over six innings against the Devil Rays.
Colon has been adjusting to a reduction in velocity as he tries to strengthen the sore right shoulder that caused him to miss two months. He used a two-seam fastball to dominate in Seattle but went with off-speed pitches to battle the Devil Rays.
"I've come to understand that my fastball from the past is not there," Colon said through broadcaster Jose Mota, who was serving as an interpreter. "I think it's making me realize even more that I have to be a complete pitcher. It's not like I've ignored those pitches in the past, but now I'm conscious of using those pitches earlier in the game.
"But I keep working hard to find my fastball ... trust me."
Colon was in a 3-0 hole in the fifth inning before the Angels responded with two in their half of the fifth and three in the sixth.
Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon was ejected for arguing a close play at first base in the fifth inning. Tampa Bay first baseman Travis Lee was ejected one batter later.
The Angels kept their cool and now have won a season- high six consecutive games and 11 of their past 12. After struggling at home for most of the season, the Angels have now won five consecutive in their own ballpark and are 22-23 at home.
The Angels are now a half game behind the second-place Texas Rangers in the American League West and remained 1<MD+,%30,%55,%70>1/<MD-,%0,%55,%70>2games behind division- leader Oakland.