The Los Angeles Angels just finished a six game road trip sweep of the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros with a 3-1 victory over the Astros on Sunday.
After getting swept by the Pirates last weekend and allowing eight runs in a 14-8 victory in the first game against the A.L. Central leading Tigers on Tuesday, the pitching picked up and the offense kept on swinging. the Angels got quality starts from all five of their pitchers on the road this week.
After saying that the Angels were in dire need of pitching on Wednesday, well they showed me by allowing just 10 runs in their last five games while scoring 24 runs on the offensive side. The streak was highlighted by strong performances from three pitchers that were struggling this season: Jered Weaver, Joe Blanton and C.J. Wilson.
Rookies Billy Buckner and Dane De La Rosa started things off on Wednesday with a 7-4 victory over the Tigers. Buckner and De La Rosa combined for five innings pitched, allowing just three runs before the rest of the bullpen took over and shut the door as the bullpen has started to pick things up of late.
After struggling mightily in his past three starts after coming off the disabled list, Weaver shut down the Tigers on Thursday with a one-run, seven inning effort to put the Angels in the position to take the 3-1 victory in extra innings after another strong performance form the bullpen. The bullpen has been anchored by lefty Scott Downs, and righties Michael Kohn, Kevin Jepsen and closer Ernesto Frieri.
The always reliable Jerome Williams then got the ship turned around versus those pesky Astros as he gave up one run on five hits in 6.1 innings pitched before handing things off to the bullpen who once again shut the door to give the Angels the 4-2 victory. Frieri earned his third save in as many games with the victory.
Joe Blanton then pitched one of his best games of the season on Saturday as he gave up only two runs on three hits in seven innings pitched to earn his second victory of the season. It was his second strong start in a row after allowing just three runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates last Sunday.
Then it was Wilson’s turn to take the mound on Sunday for the sweep of the Astros and he delivered with a 3-1 victory. Wilson allowed one unearned run on just three hits in seven innings pitched, striking out 10 batters in the process. Jepsen and Frieri then came in to seal the deal once again, giving Frieri his fourth save on the road trip and 21st save on the season.
The Angels seem to have turn things around on the pitching side, for now, as the offense just keeps clicking and the team is playing like it was envisioned to play at the beginning of the season. There is still some caution as Jason Vargas will be out for a while after surgery to remove a blood clot under his armpit and word on Wednesday that Tommy Hanson was heading to the 15-day DL with a right forearm strain. Good news is that an MRI revealed there was no structural damage.
One thing that looks promising besides the pitching of late is that Josh Hamilton seems to start heating up. In his last seven games, Hamilton is hitting .421 with eight hits, six runs, three RBIs, two doubles and two walks. He has raised his batting average to .221 and has been exceptional on the defensive side as well as of late.
If the pitching stays hot and Hamilton begins to heat up on go on one of his streaks, the Angels might be going into the All-Star break with a .500 record and may go into the trading deadline at the end of July as buyers instead of sellers and make a run. Only time will tell.