Angels use power to rout Rockies
Napoli hits three-run shot, Wood a grand slam in big win
ANAHEIM -- Brandon Wood might just be starting to figure things out. At least that certainly appeared to be the case Sunday afternoon against the Rockies.
Just two days after Angels manager Mike Scioscia said his young infielder was playing at "his absolute worst," Wood crushed his first career grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to punctuate a 10-3 win.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
"It felt really good," Wood said. "I haven't put a swing on the ball like that I think the entire year -- even in Spring Training. I got my hits in spring, but I've been working on trying to get that swing back to where I'm driving it."
Wood's struggles this season have been well-documented.
He entered the day hitting a paltry .173, and had 19 more strikeouts (45) than hits (26). Those numbers were a far cry from his production in the Minors, where he gained the reputation as a can't-miss prospect.
Wood was given Saturday off after an 0-for-2 Friday night, and he said he felt confident after a batting-practice session with Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher.
Those good feelings carried into the game after Wood nearly hit a home run in his first at-bat. He then put some more good swings on the ball in the at-bats leading up to his eight-inning home run.
"I felt good all game," Wood said. "Just missed one to right. The one I popped up my third at-bat felt good, and the at-bat where I walked, I took some good swings. Mickey and I have been working hard in the cage, and today was the first day where I felt like it was my swing."
Whether Sunday proves to be the day when everything clicks for Wood remains to be seen, but a grand slam has never hurt someone's confidence.
"I think it's huge," Scioscia said. "I think anytime a player that struggles and you get some good at-bats together ... he just missed a couple of pitches today, and then hit the home run. You want him to carry that forward, and hopefully he will."
Center fielder Torii Hunter, who scored from third base on Wood's homer, said that sometimes one good at-bat can turn things around for a slumping hitter.
"It can," he said. "It can go positive for him, and hopefully this is something special."
Wood wasn't the only player the Angels got a welcome power surge from against the Rockies.
First baseman Mike Napoli crushed a 2-1 slider off Jhoulys Chacin for a three-run homer and a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Up to that point, the Angels had struggled mightily against the Rockies' rookie starter.
Five of the first six batters struck out (Howard Kendrick singled in the first), and the Angels whiffed seven times in their first nine trips to the plate.
"He's got a good arm, good stuff and certainly early on, it didn't look like we got a loud foul ball off of him," Scioscia said.
Kendrick led off the fourth with the Angels' eighth strikeout, but then Chacin's pitches stopped being as elusive.
Right fielder Bobby Abreu, who misplayed the ball on Jason Giambi's RBI double in the top of the fourth, redeemed himself with a triple. Hideki Matsui drove him in with a two-out single, and Juan Rivera kept the inning alive when he reached first on an error by Ian Stewart.
Then Napoli slugged his 13th home run of the year, and the Angels led the rest of the game.
A few more home runs from Napoli, who's played his last nine games at first base, could replace the production the Angels lost when Kendry Morales was lost for the year because of a broken leg.
"Right now, that's our depth at first base," Scioscia said. "Obviously, if he's going to keep driving the ball, he has the potential to put up some big numbers. I think he has much more potential to be productive as far as RBIs, which I think hopefully we'll start to see as this thing moves on.
"But he certainly has the big bat that could fill that void."
David Ely is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.