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Trumbo's walk-off shot lit a fire under Halos

Trumbo's walk-off shot lit a fire under Halos

Trumbo's walk-off shot lit a fire under Halos
ANAHEIM -- Six days after hitting a walk-off home run off Rangers reliever Mike Adams to snap a five-game losing streak and avoid an eight-game hole in the American League West, Mark Trumbo still hesitates to label his homer as the moment the Angels' season turned.

"People were saying if we had lost, the season would have been over, which I refuted at the time, and I still do," Trumbo said prior to the Halos' 8-0 win over the White Sox on Wednesday. "There's still a lot more games to be played."

It's the same attitude Trumbo held in the clubhouse immediately after last week's walk-off win, but it's getting harder and harder to view the home run as just your average game-winner.

The Angels followed last Thursday's dramatics with four straight wins and pushed their streak to six with Wednesday's victory. That stretch came as the Rangers lost five of seven. The Halos now sit just 2 1/2 games behind Texas and could potentially face only a two-game deficit at the start of their three-game series in Arlington if the Rangers lose to Boston on Thursday night. A series sweep in Arlington assures the Angels of at least a tie for first in the West.

When pressed further on if his views of his home run have changed in light of the Angels' turnaround, Trumbo conceded to a degree that the blast did provide the team a spark.

"I still have a hard time answering that," Trumbo said. "I think it definitely helped us, that's for sure. I don't know about season-changing, but if anything, I hope it was at least enough motivation to go into that next series [against Baltimore] and we played the way we needed to play against them."

"At the time, obviously it was important, but its importance will be defined on how we do over the next five weeks or so," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Regardless of what the catalyst was for the change in play, the Angels certainly are a different team from the bunch that faced the Rangers in Anaheim last week.

The Halos entered that four-game set on the heels of a disappointing 2-4 East Coast swing. The malaise of the trip carried over into the showdown with Texas, as they dropped their first three games against the Rangers to fall seven games back in the division.

At the height of their struggles, the Angels were plagued by a punchless offense that had the worst post-All-Star break batting average in baseball. The minimal run support forced starters to pitch with zero margin of error, and the team's mood was particularly down after the Halos lost for the first time since July 16 with Ervin Santana on the mound.

But since Trumbo's homer, the Angels are the team playing with swagger. They have scored at least seven runs four times during their streak, and three of the six wins have come in their final at-bat.

"You can't ever give up," said ace Jered Weaver, who gave up four hits in seven scoreless innings Wednesday. "If you keep it close, you never can know what can happen. We're playing good baseball here lately.

"I think coming off that road trip, that walk-off homer, I think kind of sparked us a little bit with Trumbo and got us going in the right direction. Hopefully we can keep this going to the road trip and maybe take two out of three in Texas."

The importance the Angels are placing on this series can be seen in Scioscia's decision to possibly pitch Santana and Weaver on three days' rest Saturday and Sunday rather than go with Joel Pineiro and Jerome Williams.

Scioscia did not make a formal announcement following Wednesday's game, but signs certainly point to a trio of Dan Haren, Santana and Weaver facing Texas. And with just a three-game series at home against the Rangers left on the schedule after this weekend, now's the perfect time for the Halos to roll the dice.

"We are getting down to the last [32] games," Trumbo said. "Once again, I'm not going to say the season rests on that series, but it would be nice to make a statement."

David Ely is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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