Don't Look Now But The Angels Are Doing Well

The Los Angeles Angels have not run away with the American League West as they did last year. They have not lived up to the preseason predictions that basically expected them to repeat last year. Instead, they spent the first couple months of the season digging a hole.

There has been a lack of power (22nd in the majors in home runs), the starting pitching has been inconsistent, there has been emotional tragedy, injuries piled up at an alarming rate, the bullpen has blown more leads than any other in baseball.

And yet…

The Angels enter the Freeway Series tonight winners of six in a row and just a game and a half behind the Texas Rangers for the division lead. They are finding a way to get it done.

They are doing it with Mike Scioscia's little ball — the Angels are hitting a major league best .282 as a team. And they are doing it with timely hitting — against the Giants in the last game the Angels got key 8th inning pinch hits from Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero, then Chone Figgins drove them in to get the win.

They are doing it with their closer Brian Fuentes having a league leading 18 saves (the problem is usually bridging the starters to Fuentes).

They are doing it by getting a lift from Matt Palmer, the rookie who was on the mound when the Angels beat two Cy Young winners from the last two years (CC Sabathia and Tim Lincecum).

Bottom line, they are doing it with scrappy Angels baseball. And now they are getting healthy (well, except for Scot Shields, who is done for the season) and things are coming together.

Last year everyone was talking about the Angels, they ran away with their division and looked like a powerhouse, and that resulted in a quick playoffs exit. This year, the Angels got off to a slow start and are flying under the radar.

And that might be the best thing. They were flying under the radar largely in 2002, and that turned out pretty well.

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