BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

Halo Effect


Yes, the Yankees may be the hottest team in the American League over the past week, but if you look at the way things have gone over the past month or so, the most dominant and most consistent team has been the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

After dealing with some injury woes in April, the Angels have rebounded quite nicely, posting a 24-9 mark since May 9. Vladimir Guerrero carried the team in that first month and his contributions were significant again in Wednesday's 6-3 win over Cincinnati.

But it's been more than Guerrero that has the Angels dominating the AL West. Unexpected contributors like Orlando Cabrera, Mike Napoli, Casey Kotchman (he's batting .417 since May 9) and the return to form of spark plug Chone Figgins have jolted the Angels' offense big time. Throw in some very strong starting pitching led by John Lackey and mistake-free work from the bullpen and the team's success isn't all that surprising.

HAIL TO THE HALOS
  FIRST 33 GAMES LAST 33 GAMES
W-L 17-16 24-9
Batting .264 .305
Runs per game 4.1 5.8
ERA 3.74 3.89
Saves/Blown saves 12/3 10/0

FORWARD THINKING: THURSDAY
Angels at Reds, 12:35 ET: Bartolo Colon (5-2, 5.70) missed his last scheduled start due to right triceps tendinitis. The Reds' Homer Bailey (1-0, 3.60) won his big league debut June 8 against Cleveland, allowing two earned runs over five innings while throwing 114 pitches.

Rockies at Red Sox, 7:05 ET: Colorado's Jeff Francis (5-5, 3.81) is 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA in his past seven starts. Josh Beckett (9-0, 2.88) is 4-0 with a 2.81 ERA in five career starts against the Rockies.

Braves at Twins, 8:10 ET: The Braves' Tim Hudson (6-4, 3.51), who was 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA on May 15, has tailed off, allowing five or more earned runs in four of his past five starts. It's hard to believe that the 2006 AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana (6-6, 3.24) is a .500 pitcher. The Twins have scored a total of six runs in his past four losses.

• Thursday's complete list of probable starters

NEWS AND NOTES
• Houston reliever Dan Wheeler blew a save, then shoved starter Chris Sampson in the dugout on Wednesday night. Wheeler left after giving up three runs in the eighth inning in a 7-3 loss to the visiting Athletics. "There's nothing going on," Wheeler said. "I love Chris. It was just frustration on my part. I'm a professional, I should be better than that. I take full responsibility."

• The Athletics on Wednesday rewarded general manager Billy Beane and team president Michael Crowley with seven-year contract extensions. The A's have been to the postseason five times in seven seasons since Beane was hired in 1997.

ABOVE WATER
Alex Rodriguez hits his 25th homer as the Yankees win their eighth straight game.

IN THE ZONE
Jake Peavy Right-hander Jake Peavy allowed two hits in seven innings as the visiting Padres thumped the Devil Rays 9-0, ending San Diego's season-high four-game losing streak. Peavy (8-1) had eight strikeouts and lowered his NL-leading ERA to 1.82. His 0.88 road ERA is the best in the majors.
NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES
GOOD
Adam Wainwright Adam Wainwright allowed one hit in a career-high eight innings in the Cardinals' 7-3 victory at Kansas City. He had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before the Royals' Esteban German singled.
BAD
Curt Schilling So much for building on last Thursday's one-hitter at Oakland. Curt Schilling followed perhaps the best start of his career with one of his poorest in a Red Sox uniform. In a 12-2 loss to Colorado, Schilling allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits over five innings. Brad Hawpe delivered the big blow, a three-run homer in the fifth.
(REALLY) UGLY
Edwin Jackson Edwin Jackson (0-8, 8.20) may have finally pitched his way out of Tampa Bay's rotation. His line against the Padres: 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 2 HR, 42 pitches (23 strikes). Opponents are batting .316 against him.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"He never throws his fastball down the middle. When you're hitting your spots at 100, to be honest, it's going to be a tough day."
-- Brewers 1B Prince Fielder on getting no-hit Tuesday night by Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander


 

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