Game by game, the Angels are beginning to find their comfort zone. The Halos may have found their footing Sunday, when they used a full team performance to take the finale of a three-game series against the Yankees. The Angels won't have much time to savor that achievement, though, as they'll have to prepare for a scrappy Cleveland team on Monday night.
"The two games we won this weekend, we did a lot of things we're going to need to do moving forward," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Getting our bullpen settled is something that's very important for us, and those guys did a terrific job [Sunday]. We need to keep pushing it with our batter's box offense and situational hitting, and that's picked up."
The Indians are also beginning to find their footing, and manager Manny Acta has been thrilled with his team's competitive edge. Cleveland got shut out on Sunday, but 33 of the team's 60 runs have been scored with two outs. That's good for the highest percentage (55) in the American League, and Acta said his team can compete with anyone.
"They're not going to give up," Acta said. "We found that out in Spring Training. We have been outscored and still, we're just [two games] under .500. We have taken advantage of every hit and every run and it shows. I think guys like [Shin-Soo] Choo and [Asdrubal] Cabrera, even the guys that have struggled, their few hits have been important. We just have taken advantage of every single one of them."
The Angels will hand the ball to Jered Weaver in the series opener, and he'll be trying to extend an impressive streak. Weaver has four quality starts this season, and he's left with the lead in all of his outings. Cleveland will counter with David Huff, who has completed six innings in all three of his starts. Huff has allowed two earned runs or fewer two times.
Indians: Momentum for bullpen
Cleveland's bullpen allowed four earned runs in four innings during Sunday's one-sided loss, spoiling a streak of effective pitching. Prior to that rout, the Indians had allowed just four earned runs in their previous 18 2/3 innings. Cleveland's relief staff went into Sunday's game having allowed just three of its 31 inherited runners to score, which was tops in the Majors.
And while those numbers took a beating on Sunday, Cleveland's bullpen won't take them for granted.
"Right now, we've got some good momentum going," said reliever Tony Sipp. "With all the away games that we've had, if we can just break out even and go home -- actually it's a little more comfortable playing at home. I like where we stand right now. We're probably not where we want to be, but we're fairly close. When we go home, hopefully we'll be right there."
Angels: Relievers finding stride
The Angels have also found some stability in late-game relief, and they've allowed just one earned run in their past 15 2/3 innings. That number comes on the heels of a brutal stretch, but the Angels are beginning to work out who fits best in which role. Setup man Kevin Jepsen has seven holds in 11 appearances, leading the league in both categories.
But if anyone symbolizes the team's turnaround, it's setup man Fernando Rodney. The right-hander is 2-0 with five saves and a 0.00 ERA in his past eight outings, and he's converted 45 of his past 46 save opportunities going back to last season. The Angels invested heavily in Rodney to help stabilize their bullpen, and so far, it appears to be money well spent.
The Indians are just two games under .500 despite being outscored 85-60 this season. ... Angels starters have posted a 2.41 ERA in their 10 wins this season, and they've notched a 7.59 mark in their 10 losses. ... Kendry Morales is hitting .590 (13-for-22) with three home runs and 10 RBIs in his past six games. ... Brandon Wood's key double on Sunday was his first extra-base hit since September of last season. ... Cleveland closer Kerry Wood threw a bullpen session but wasn't as sharp as he'd hoped. Wood will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday before the team commits to his rehab schedule.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.