With one of his best showings at the plate this season, Albert Pujols took another step toward ending his early season struggles.
The high-priced first baseman, though, will have to continue that work and try to rediscover his power with a new hitting coach when the Los Angeles Angels begin a two-game set against the visiting Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
Pujols is 8 for 25 (.320) since seeing his average drop to .190 on May 8 and went 3 for 4 with two RBIs in a 4-0 win over Oakland on Tuesday. While he boosted his average to .212 with his second three-hit game of the season, the three-time NL MVP also went without an extra-base hit in an eighth straight contest as he had all infield singles.
Pujols has 15 hits over the last 23 games but with just one double and his lone home run of the season May 6 against Toronto.
His struggles and the Angels' lackluster showings at the plate during their 16-21 start played a part in Mickey Hatcher's dismissal following Tuesday's victory.
Los Angeles is hitting .272 over its last 13 games but has also been blanked four times over that stretch. The Angels have endured a major league-worst eight shutouts already this season and their 134 runs are among the fewest in the AL.
"Sometimes in the sports world a point is reached where perhaps a new voice is needed in order to attain the desired goals and objectives. Unfortunately, we feel this is one of those times," general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. "Offensively, we have underachieved, and everyone shares in the responsibility."
Jim Eppard is being promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake to take Hatcher's spot on the staff and will try to help jump-start his new team against a White Sox club that's given up a combined 29 runs and 47 hits while dropping three of four.
Chicago (17-20) gave up eight runs in the sixth inning of a 10-8 home loss to Detroit on Tuesday with reliever Will Ohman allowing the tiebreaking three-run homer.
"Obviously the momentum changed pretty quickly," said Ohman, who was charged with a season-high four runs. "I didn't do what I needed to do."
Another strong outing from Gavin Floyd (3-3, 2.53 ERA) might help the White Sox, losers in 14 of 21, get back in the win column. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his last three starts and pitched a season-high 7 2-3 innings in a 5-0 win over Kansas City on Friday.
"I'm really honestly just trying to be aggressive with whatever I'm throwing," Floyd said. "I'm trying to simplify things, go out there and attack guys."
Floyd is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in his last three games against the Angels but gave up one run over seven innings in the lone win July 5, 2010.
He's 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA in his two all-time starts in Anaheim and the White Sox are 2-6 in their last eight versus the Angels after winning seven straight matchups.
Jerome Williams (3-1, 4.19) will try to add to those struggles while regaining the form he showed before an impromptu relief appearance in Friday's 10-3 loss to Texas.
The right-hander gave up six runs over 6 2-3 innings after a rain delay forced C.J. Wilson out of the game. Williams is 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in his last four starts.