Kendrys Morales loses his groove and other nuggets

NEW YORK -- Hopes for this team were sky high after Albert Pujols signed, but they went stratospheric when Kendrys Morales proved he was healthy in the spring.

Now, both sluggers are struggling in tandem, particularly Morales, and it has blown a hole in the middle of the Angels' offense. The most telling measure of that: Morales, usually the team's cleanup hitter, has yet to drive in a run. Since his four-hit game one week ago, Morales is 1-for-18 with six strikeouts.

Since the hot start, he has seemingly swung at every pitch he has seen, causing manager Mike Scioscia to say before Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium, "He's expanding his zone a little bit, which he did at times in '09 as well." Getting reacquainted with American League pitchers could also help.

Morales is just trying to get comfortable again in the batter's box.

“I’m not doing great right now, but I’m trying to get acclimated as quickly as possible," Morales said. ...

Reliever Scott Downs got on the bullpen mound Saturday morning and threw a few pitches to test his bruised right ankle. He said it felt good and, after missing the next two games, expects to be ready to pitch again by Monday or Tuesday. Downs has been the Angels most reliable reliever since April 2011.

The injury is complicated by the fact Downs lands on his right foot.

"The good news is I'm not a very harsh lander. I'm not violent," Downs said. ...

The Angels promoted lefty pitcher Brad Mills from Triple-A for one reason only: after some shaky starting pitching in the first week -- and against a stacked lineup at a hitter's ballpark -- they were concerned they might not have enough innings to squeeze out of their bullpen. Mills is a starting pitcher and he's hoping this isn't a permanent career move, from starter to long man.

"I still think I can be a starter in the league, but obviously the opportunity is what it is," Mills said.