For the first 42 games of the season, the Los Angeles Angels were horrible. They went 15-27 and looked lost.
Now, after winning eight straight games, the Angels are starting to gain respect once again. It has fans wondering, can they sustain their current play?
The Key to Winning
The key to success for Los Angeles has been keeping its opponents from crossing home plate. Outside of the nine runs allowed to the Chicago White Sox, the Angels have allowed just 1.57 runs per game during the win streak. In six of those games, they allowed two runs or less.
The starters have looked good during the streak, including Joe Blanton, who was 0-7 with a 6.62 ERA before picking up a win Thursday. Jerome Williams and Jason Vargas each have two wins in two starts. Williams went 14 innings, giving up two runs and striking out 10, while Vargas went 14.1 innings, giving up two runs and striking out eight.
Another key is that the Angels scored first in six of the eight games. The team had big innings of three or more runs in six games, as well.
Josh Hamilton is starting to get back on track, hitting .308 with three home runs and six RBI. Meanwhile, Mike Trout is batting .406 with two home runs and seven RBI. Players are starting to do what they're supposed to, which is translating into wins.
Combined, the teams have a record of 66-79, with only the White Sox being a .500 team.
Still, with a home-and-home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers over the next four days, the Angels won't be really tested. Add in three games against the Houston Astros and two versus the Chicago Cubs, and one would think the Angels should be above .500 by the time the middle of next week rolls around.
Wait and See
Starting June 7, the Angels have nine games in a row against the top teams in the AL East. They'll travel to Boston and Baltimore before returning home to play the Yankees. If the Angels can come out of those nine games with a record of at least 5-4, then fans will have a lot to be confident about moving forward. If they can't, then this eight-game winning streak will mean nothing.
Most teams can beat up on the worst teams in the league. The bigger question is if they can compete with the better teams in baseball.
There's still a long way to go, and it's nothing to get excited about when the Angels beat teams they should.
Do They Have What it Takes?
Offensively, there's no question the Angels have what it takes to contend. However, the biggest question mark is, and always will be, the starting rotation.
Jered Weaver returns Wednesday from the disabled list, which will help. But Blanton is still an issue in the rotation. When Tommy Hanson returns from injury, he'll likely replace Blanton, but that's not much better.
Los Angeles needs pitching help. There's nobody in the minors that can help right away, so the Angels will have to look elsewhere if they're going to compete this year. Unless the pitching gets fixed, the team won't have what it takes to make the playoffs this fall.
When it comes to the stretch run, pitching is more important than ever. And frankly, that's not something the Angels have a lot of right now.