If the movie Groundhog Day had been about a baseball franchise, then Bill Murray would be playing the part of Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia.
For the third consecutive season, the Angels have gotten off to a brutal April, only to finally get it going in May.
The 2013 version of that magical recovery has taken the form of an eight-game winning streak, as the Halos finished off a four-game sweep of the suddenly struggling Kansas City Royals on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
Despite the long streak, the Angels still find themselves four games under .500 and in third place in the AL West race chasing the Texas Rangers.
The reason for the Halos’ resurgence over the past week and change is simple: solid, if not spectacular, pitching performances from the starting rotation and a much improved look out of the bullpen, Ernesto Frieri’s weekend adventures aside.
The roation has done it despite being basically held together with duct tape and baling wire.
Jered Weaver has been out since the opening weekend of the season, though he will come back on Wednesday against the Dodgers at Angel Stadium.
Tommy Hanson has been mourning the loss of his stepbrother, and was just starting to turn a corner when tragedy struck his family. Hanson is also scheduled to return later this week if he can get through a bullpen without any issues.
Meanwhile, Joe Blanton has been about as Jekyll and Hyde as anyone on the planet. Last Saturday against the White Sox in Anaheim, Blanton was down 4-0 and on the verge of getting blown out of the game when the Angels rallied. He responded by having another rough inning and was bailed out by Robert Coello.
On Thursday in KC, the veteran right-hander had one of his better starts of the season before Frieri made it interesting and Coello came to the rescue again.
C.J. Wilson still hasn’t realized that just two years ago he started Game 1 of the World Series in St. Louis, making way too many pitches in gutting out five scoreless innings.
About the only one who has been dependable is Jason Vargas. The lefty pitched into the eighth inning on Friday night and allowed just two runs to the Royals. The performance came on the heels of tossing seven scoreless frames against the Chisox last Sunday to get Angels a much-needed series split and, more importantly, begin the winning streak in earnest.
Now the onus lays on the offense, which has shown flashes of brilliance, and the tightening-up of a defense which has been shockingly mediocre through the first third of the season.
The Angels have a chance to get back to .500 going into June if they can sweep the Dodgers beginning Monday at Chavez Ravine. The best part of this four-game, home-and-home set: not having to face Clayton Kershaw, who was handed the loss on Sunday against St. Louis.