Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia held a team meeting after his club’s last loss, and early returns make it seem like he got his message across.
After his first career three-homer game, Hunter looks to continue his hot hitting as Weaver tries to win his fourth straight start Sunday in the finale of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres, losers of their last 10 interleague games.
Scioscia met with his team after it managed four singles in an 11-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Angels (31-29) responded with a season-high 18 hits in an 11-6 win in the series opener against the Padres before taking the next game 9-1 on Saturday night.
“I think the kick in the butt we got in Tampa really helped us. This is the way we’re capable of doing it,” Saturday’s starter Joe Saunders(notes) told the Angels’ official Web site. “I’m real happy with the way we played, all-around baseball. From my standpoint, every half-inning I wasn’t pitching was exciting to watch. We were scoring left and right.”
Hunter was one of the keys to the offensive outburst. The All-Star center fielder hit solo home runs in three consecutive at-bats, becoming the 12th player in Angels history to homer three times in a game and the first to do it since Garret Anderson(notes) in 2003 against the Montreal Expos in Puerto Rico.
“It’s like you’re in a zone. And when you’re in a zone, a lot of good things can happen,” said Hunter, who compared himself to basketball star Kobe Bryant of the crosstown Los Angeles Lakers. “Tonight I felt like Kobe. When Kobe’s in a zone, he’s hitting everything. And now I know how it feels. That was a lot of fun.”
Hunter is 11 for 27 (.407) over his last seven games. He has four homers and five RBIs in the first two games of this series.
If Hunter can continue his recent hot streak, it should be plenty of support for Weaver (6-2, 2.31 ERA). The right-hander has posted a 1.71 ERA over a three-start winning streak, putting him in position to win four straight for the first time since he won his first seven major league games in 2006.
Weaver struggled with his command Tuesday, walking a season-high four over six innings, but limited Tampa Bay to two runs and five hits in a 4-3 victory.
“I was able to locate my pitches when I needed to,” Weaver said. “It was just one of those games where it didn’t feel right and I had to battle.”
Weaver, who has never faced San Diego, is 4-2 with a 3.14 ERA in eight career interleague games.
The Padres (28-33) are 3-17 against the AL since the start of last season, going 0-10 since beating Detroit on June 20.
They’ll try to end those struggles behind Chris Young (4-5, 4.76), who’s had much more success. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 11 career interleague starts, the last coming in May of last season. He’s 3-2 with a 5.50 ERA in seven starts against the Angels.
Young allowed five runs in five innings of a 6-4 road loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. He gave up four home runs for the second time in his six-year career and will now face Hunter, who has a homer in two at-bats against him.