Shortstop Erick Aybar was having a dreadful offensive season -- until interleague showed up.
Aybar was 2-for-4 with a double, triple, two RBI and a run scored in the Angels' 8-5 win over the Dodgers on Friday night. In 16 games against National League teams, Aybar is batting .406 (26-for-64) with 10 extra-base hits (eight doubles, one triple, one home run) and eight RBI. On the other hand, he is batting just .193 (35-for-181) with seven extra-base hits (six doubles, one triple) and 10 RBI in 52 American League games.
"He's a better offensive player than he's shown for probably the first two months of the season," manager Mike Scioscia said of the deep pre-interleague slump in which Aybar was stuck. "We need him to contribute and get some of that action going from down below in the lineup right now as we make that turnaround to the top of the order.
"Hitting where he is now, it's important because he's connected with Mike Trout, and obviously we've seen what Mike has been doing."
Trout has been the Angels' best hitter with runners in scoring position, batting .366 (15-for-41) since he took over the leadoff spot in late April.
Aybar started as the Angels' primary leadoff hitter for the second consecutive season but again failed to take hold of the position. Aybar and the Angels are optimistic that his recent burst from the bottom of the lineup -- which includes an eight-game hitting streak -- has come because of some adjustments he made, not because of NL pitching. The Angels' interleague schedule ends Sunday against the Dodgers.
"Watch my video, go to the batting cage, work with the hitting coach," Aybar said of the routine that helped him snap out of his slump. The switch-hitter said he is standing more upright in his left-hand stance, is not trying to pull the ball as often and has shortened up his swing.
"Before I was trying to hit it too hard," he said. "Now I have it under control."
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