Found April 22, 2012 on Fox Sports West:
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ANAHEIM, Calif. Albert Pujols stood in the on-deck circle Sunday afternoon waiting for one last chance to bat. It never came. Maybe that's a good thing. The Angels could have used a home run or two, but that's one area where Pujols has yet to deliver. He will -- and sooner or later, the Angels will muscle up as everyone expects them to. But 16 games into the season, with everything else slowly falling into place, their power is still missing in action. "The power is going to come," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We know that. But it just has to be one small part of a consistent offense." Offense is a tricky thing. Key hits in critical situations can win a lot of games, but when you have as many sluggers as the Angels do, you expect them to step up every once in a while. The Angels have 11 home runs, the fewest in the American League. Pujols, the only player in major league history to hit 30 or more homers in each of his first 11 seasons, has gone 65 at-bats without one, the longest homerless stretch of his career to start a season. The Angels' No. 3 and 4 hitters Pujols, Torii Hunter and Kendrys Morales have combined to hit just one home run this season. Seven of their nine starters Sunday had either one or no home runs. Second baseman Howie Kendrick provided the only power Sunday, delivering a game-tying homer in the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles, who won the game in 10, 3-2. The loss prevented the Angels from sweeping the series, although they won the first two games. But now they head back on the road after going 3-4 on their homestand. "I kind of look at the positive," said Hunter, who was 0 for 3. "We played well in this series. Those guys have a great bullpen with great arms, and we won a series. We won the series, and now we're going to try and carry that on." Scioscia concedes the offense isn't where he'd like it to be, but an overriding concern is the bullpen. Dan Haren pitched well into the eighth but left after giving up two one-out singles. Both scored when left-hander Scott Downs surrendered a single through the left side to Nick Markakis. In the 10th, Markakis came through again with an RBI single after reliever LaTroy Hawkins walked leadoff hitter Robert Andino, who advanced on a sacrifice and a ground out. "The power is not a concern," Scioscia said. "I think finding the chemistry in our bullpen is a concern. "Looking at some other parts of our club, like finding offensive continuity, I wouldn't say it's a concern. We're searching for it. As far as power on this club, we're going to hit the ball out of the park, but our wins and losses shouldn't be contingent on hitting the ball out of the park." True, but pitchers' jobs become easier when they have leads, and power is the best way to get a lead quickly. It's not something you can force, and Pujols has continually insisted he isn't pressing. But he struck out twice on Sunday, and his average dropped to .246 after an 0-for-4 day. Angels fans would have loved to see him stride to the plate one more time Sunday with a chance to tie or win the game. Instead, he stood near the dugout as Kendrick swung and missed at a third strike. Now the Angels go back on the road for stops in Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Maybe Pujols will knock one out there. He's certainly overdue.
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