Baseball / Sports

Los Angeles Angels catcher Hank Conger (16) reaches for the throw as the Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre (29) scores a run on an RBI double by Jake Smolinski during the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (Brandon Wade/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

Angels trounce Rangers, 15-6

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Erick Aybar had his All-Star break planned out. The Angels shortstop was going to take his 7-year-old daughter, Ahaieri, and 6-year-old son, Eiren, to Disneyland, and get as much rest as he could after a grueling first half in which he played all but two games.

But baseball threw Aybar a curve Thursday, and now Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and It's a Small World will have to wait.

Shortly after Angels right-hander Garrett Richards lost out to Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale in the "final five" fan vote to pick the last players on the All-Star teams, Aybar, snubbed in Sunday's selections, was added to the American League club as a replacement for injured Kansas City outfielder Alex Gordon.

The slick-fielding Aybar, 30, will join center fielder Mike Trout in next Tuesday's game at Minnesota. It's the first All-Star selection for Aybar, a nine-year veteran, and the first time an Angels shortstop made the All-Star game since Gary DiSarcina in 1995.

"It feels good," said Aybar, who drove in three runs in a 15-6 shellacking of the Texas Rangers in Globe Life Park on Thursday night. "For sure, it's better than going to Disneyland for my kids. I'll bring my family. There are a lot of great players there. My kids will love that."

That it took a wrist injury to Gordon to open a spot for Aybar in no way diminishes the achievement in the eyes of Manager Mike Scioscia.

"There is no question he's All-Star worthy," Scioscia said. "I think everybody, not just in our organization but in baseball, felt he should be on that team."

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Aybar has always been more of a slash-hitter than a power hitter, but he's been such a force on offense he's gone from the team's opening-day No. 9 hitter to its fifth or sixth hitter.

He's batting .282 with six homers, 22 doubles, 48 runs batted in -- most among AL shortstops -- and 46 runs. He has only 35 strikeouts in 347 at-bats and is hitting .271 (26 for 96) with runners in scoring position.

"When you look at Erick, at first glance, it doesn't make a lot of sense that he's batting fifth," Scioscia said. "But the way he's hitting with runners in scoring position, driving in runs ... it's been a good fit."

Good health has been a key for Aybar, who played most of 2013 with a sore left foot but is "100 percent right now," he said. "Nothing is bothering me. There's nothing I can't do. I feel like a different player."

Some heavier lumber may be a factor, as well. Aybar usually swings a 34-inch, 31-ounce bat, but he picked up an Albert Pujols model -- 34 inches, 32 ounces -- in spring training, liked the way it felt and has used the slugger's bats all season.

"I feel comfortable with the bat," Aybar said. "That's my lucky bat. I made the All-Star team with it. I don't have much pop, but I have Albert's name on my bat, so maybe that's helped me."

As significant as his offensive contributions have been, Aybar's biggest impact is on defense. He has been solid, and sometimes spectacular, showing superb range, a strong arm and the athletic ability to make a variety of acrobatic and off-balance throws. He has only five errors in 89 games.

"Some shortstops, you'll see them make the flashy play, and a lot of times maybe the routine play they take for granted," Scioscia said. "Erick is as consistent as any shortstop I've seen. He makes a lot of tough plays look easy."

Said Trout: "He's a big reason why we're winning right now."

So is Richards, who is 10-2 with a 2.71 earned-run average and 119 strikeouts in 116 1/3 innings but, barring an injury to another AL pitcher, won't be going to the All-Star game.

"I thought I was going to make the All-Star team," Richards said. "If you look at the numbers, I've had a good first half. It's a little disappointing, but I'll have to do better next year."

Angels 15, Texas Rangers 6

KEY MOMENT: Three innings in, Kole Calhoun had a triple, double and a single. With two chances to hit for the cycle, the Angels right fielder grounded out to first in the fifth and singled to center in the eighth. Was Calhoun going for the homer? "One hundred percent, yes," he said. "I've never hit for the cycle before." Calhoun was in the on-deck circle when Hank Conger flied out to end the ninth.

AT THE PLATE: The Angels had season highs in runs and hits (17) and pounded Rangers starter Colby Lewis for 13 runs and 13 hits in 21/3 innings. Calhoun, Mike Trout, who hit a three-run homer in the third, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton (three doubles) combined to go 13 for 19 with 11 runs and nine RBIs. The Angels went seven for 13 with runners in scoring position, and they surpassed Oakland as the highest-scoring team in baseball with 460 runs.

ON THE MOUND: It took 13 starts, but hard-luck left-hander Hector Santiago (1-7) finally notched his first win as an Angel, allowing four runs -- three earned -- and five hits, striking out eight and walking one in six innings. "I wanted to dump the water cooler on myself," Santiago said. "Thirteen runs in three innings? These guys wanted me to win more than I did." Catcher Chris Gimenez, the eighth position player in Rangers history to pitch, retired the side in order in the ninth.

WILSON OUT: Struggling left-hander C.J. Wilson, who has allowed 19 earned runs and 31 hits in 162/3 innings of his last four starts, was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a right-ankle sprain he suffered Wednesday. An MRI test revealed a "moderate" sprain that will sideline Wilson for two to four weeks, but General Manager Jerry Dipoto said that won't spark a pursuit of rotation help before the July 31 trade deadline. "We're going to march on with what we have," he said. Manager Mike Scioscia thinks Wilson will benefit from a mental break. "He's been banging his head against the wall trying to get back to where he knows he can be," Scioscia said. "Maybe just by exhaling a bit and getting a different perspective, he can get to that result a little quicker."

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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