The Los Angeles Angels are hoping a day off will finally help their $240 million free-agent acquisition get untracked.
After getting a day to clear his head, Albert Pujols is expected back in the lineup Sunday afternoon as the Angels try to salvage a four-game split with the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
It's safe to say the three-time NL MVP has yet to live up to his mammoth contract. Pujols is batting .194 with five RBIs in his first 27 games with the Angels (11-17) and has yet to homer, the longest drought of his career, prompting manager Mike Scioscia to leave him out of Saturday's lineup.
"Sometimes you're grinding, and nobody grinds harder than Albert," Scioscia said of Pujols, who has just five hits in his last 55 at-bats (.091).
"I think he's frustrated just from the fact that he knows there's a lot he feels that he can contribute. Sometimes when you're trying to find something and you're pounding your head against the wall, you need to just get off that treadmill for a second and get back on the next day."
Los Angeles, which lost the first two games of this series by a combined 9-0 margin, broke through with Pujols on the bench and won 6-2 on Saturday night. Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo each went 2 for 4 and hit their first and fourth homers of the season, respectively.
C.J. Wilson helped quiet the Blue Jays (16-12), striking out nine over eight strong innings.
"It was one of those games where they executed and we didn't, so they won. That's it," Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista said. "There's no need to overanalyze it. It's not that big of a deal. We've got a game (Sunday) and we're going try to take this series and move on."
Toronto could have a hard time bouncing back against Jerome Williams (2-1, 3.55 ERA), who was lights out during Tuesday's 4-0 win over Minnesota. The Angels right-hander allowed three hits, a walk and struck out six in his second career shutout.
Since surrendering five runs in 2 2-3 innings to lose his season debut against the New York Yankees, Williams has gone 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA and a .190 opponent batting average.
"You need five starters. But the fact that Jerome is number five I don't think is indicative of how well he's pitched for us," Scioscia said. "This guy could be in a lot of rotations in the major leagues, and with a little higher seeding. After a rough start in New York, he's really bounced back. He's shown that he can make pitches and that his stuff plays in the big leagues."
Williams was also terrific in his only career appearance against the Blue Jays, allowing two unearned runs in 6 1/3 innings at Toronto on Sept. 19, but not getting a decision as the Angels lost 3-2 in 10 innings.
Scheduled to take the mound for the Blue Jays is 21-year-old rookie Drew Hutchison (1-0, 6.61), who yielded six runs, seven hits and a pair of walks over six innings Tuesday but didn't get a decision as Toronto rallied to beat Texas 8-7.
"The line score is going to say six runs, five earned in six innings," manager John Farrell told the Blue Jays' official website. "But the last four innings, he gave us a chance to stay in that game and continue to chip away and that will go unnoticed, but his effort (Tuesday) was a pivotal one."
Opponents are batting .309 against the right-hander through his first three big-league starts.