After loss, Pujols says fans right to boo
After loss, Pujols says fans right to boo
ANAHEIM - Albert Pujols reached another milestone in the depths of his worst-ever start to a season.
He heard boos. And not just shy, discontented murmurs, either. Many among the 33,160 who witnessed the latest lopsided loss by the Angels on Friday night let Pujols have it, jeering him after two consecutive unsuccessful at-bats.
Pujols said he understood the frustration: The Angels are 10-17, and he, the would-be slugger with all the riches and expectations bestowed by a 10-year, $246 million contract, is not performing. He went 0 for 4 in the Angels' 4-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, lowering his batting average to an astounding .194.
He said he'd boo himself, if he could.
"But I know better. I know better than to get myself down," he said. "And my message to the fans is, they have a reason to boo. I'm not performing the way that I can, but just the same way I'm patient, they need to be patient and know that I'm gonna be here for 10 years. I don't read the future, but I guarantee to you there's gonna be more cheers than boos in those 10 years.
"This is just six weeks into the season. They have the right. They pay a lot of money to come and watch me play, and I'm not performing the way I know how to perform. But I also understand I can't force it. I'm trying my best."
Henderson Alvarez became the second consecutive pitcher to throw a shutout against the Angels. The last time that happened was Sept. 29 and 30, 1992, against Kansas City.
For Angels fans, Jered Weaver's no-hitter Wednesday night is now a distant memory.
Another standard for futility was set by the Angels' hard-luck starting pitcher, Ervin Santana, who once again pitched well enough to win, if only his team would score any runs for him.
The Angels have scored only three runs in his six starts this season, all in his first outing April 8 at home against the Royals, when the Angels lost, 7-3. Since then, in five straight starts, they've given him exactly no run support. Zippo, in 38 2/3 innings.
"I don't know how I can explain that," Santana said. But he said he just has "to keep moving forward and pitching."
Santana is the first pitcher in Angels history to lose his first six starts in a season.
The Angels have already been shut out six times. "Seems like a season's worth already," Manager Mike Scioscia said.
Santana looked indestructible the first couple innings. He struck out six of the first seven batters he faced, and then got a little wobbly.
With one out in the third he walked ex-Angels catcher Jeff Mathis. After a groundout sent Mathis to second, Yunel Escobar stroked a two-out line drive to center, making it 1-0. Then Jose Bautista hit the first pitch for a home run to left-center, onto the mini-rockpile, for a 3-0 lead.
Center fielder Mike Trout seemed to have lost it in the lights or the twilight clouds, because he raised his hands up, the universal signal for "I don't got it." Trout jumped at the wall anyway, crashing into the padding, but the ball went over easily.
The score stayed that way for a good long while as Santana resumed getting hitters out with his nasty slider. He went eight innings, allowing only those three runs. He walked two and struck out 10, a season high.
In the sixth inning, Pujols struck out swinging against the 22-year-old Alvarez (2-0), who kept the ball down in the strike zone. Some fans booed, loudly, and it was a shocking sound.
In the ninth, Pujols came to bat with Maicer Izturis on second. Pujols grounded out to third, and once again the boos showered him.
"I need to have faith and stay strong, and know that this bad time will pass," Pujols said. "And if it won't pass, if it's meant to be like this the whole year, I deal with it. But you know what? I'm a great hitter. I know I can hit. And before you know it, I'll start making some adjustments and swing the bats the way I know how to swing the bat.
"But I can't come over here and get myself down, because that's not who I am. I'm a leader in this clubhouse, just like I was in St. Louis. And when you struggle around this time, this is when the ballclub needs their leader to step up."