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Morales continues to turn heads at plate

Morales continues to turn heads at plate

SEATTLE -- If Kendry Morales keeps this up, the Angels might not care that they had and then lost Mark Teixeira.

Seriously.

Morales, the switch-hitting first baseman who took over for Teixeira when the latter signed an eye-popping eight-year, $180 million contract with the New York Yankees in the offseason, has gotten into a major groove at the plate lately.

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Even after a rough trip through Texas in the previous three games, Morales rebounded Monday night against the Mariners, when, while batting eighth, he racked up three hits, including two home runs, and drove in three runs. It was his first career two-homer game, and since April 22, his eight homers are tied for second-best in the league.

"There's going to be some series like he had in Texas where the hits won't fall," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But as he gets comfortable, you can see the potential he has."

Morales has been all about potential since signing with the Angels as a Cuban defector in December 2004. Prior to this year, Morales had four stints with the big league club in 2008 and a total of 100 at-bats at the Major League level over the previous two seasons.

But this year has been the real test, with the Angels counting on Morales to fill the shoes of the departed Teixeira, whom the team acquired at the 2008 Trade Deadline in a postseason push, sacrificing young first baseman Casey Kotchman and reliever Steve Marek in the process.

After Monday's offensive display, Morales has 25 RBIs in his last 27 games, 16 of his last 28 hits have been of the extra-base variety, and he leads the club with 15 multihit games.

"For a guy with his first real crack at playing every day and hitting in the middle of the lineup in some fashion, he's done a terrific job," Scioscia said. "He's starting to make adjustments, and that's what it's all about."

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Matt Palmer (4-0, 3.38 ERA)
Palmer, the 30-year-old journeyman, continues to flourish with his poise and command, showing both traits in a remarkable effort against the Red Sox on Wednesday night in Anaheim. Down 4-0 after two innings, Palmer went on a run of 20 consecutive outs, finishing with eight strikeouts against two walks, both costing him runs. After going 0-2 in three starts for the Giants last year, the first Major League opportunities of his career, Palmer made an adjustment in his delivery at Triple-A Salt Lake in early April, more leg drive combined with a direct path to the plate, and it has paid dividends in his new home.

SEA: RHP Felix Hernandez (4-2, 3.53 ERA)
Hernandez turned back the clock to April in his last start, holding the Rangers to four hits and no runs in a stellar performance in Arlington. The staff ace had struggled in his first two May starts, surrendering 16 hits and 12 earned runs in 10 innings, after ending April with a 4-0 record. He had a dazzling two-seamer and location in his start against the Rangers.

Tidbits
Veteran reliever Rudy Seanez, 40, passed a physical on Monday and signed a Minor League deal with the Angels. Seanez, who went 5-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 42 games with the Phillies last year, will pitch in extended spring training in Arizona and then join Salt Lake. ... Mike Napoli went 2-for-5 on Monday and is batting .396 (53-for-134) with 10 homers and 28 RBIs in his last 37 games dating back to September. ... Bobby Abreu had his 14th stolen base of the season and remains fourth in that category in the American League. ... Each of Juan Rivera's last three three-run games have come at Safeco Field, and both of his home runs this year have come against Seattle starter -- and former Angel -- Jarrod Washburn.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-W

On radio
• KLAA 830, KFWB, KWKW 1330 (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Angels (Ervin Santana, 0-0, 5.40) at Mariners (Chris Jakubauskas, 2-4, 7.13), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Angels (Joe Saunders, 5-2, 3.59) at Mariners (Erik Bedard, 2-1, 2.53), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Friday: Angels (Jered Weaver, 3-2, 2.59) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 2-3, 4.60), 7:10 p.m. PT

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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