Pitchers have certain quality

Times Staff Writer

There is a flip side to the Angels' recent offensive woes -- their pitching, aided by the return of ace John Lackey and the emergence of rookie reliever Jose Arredondo, has been outstanding.

The Angels have a team earned-run average of 2.36 in their last 14 games and have held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in 12 of 25 games this month, including each of the last nine wins.

The rotation has delivered quality starts in nine of 11 games, including Ervin Santana's superb complete-game, two-run, three-hit effort against Detroit on Tuesday night. The relievers have not allowed a run in 17 innings of the team's last nine games.

Lackey, who missed the first six weeks because of a biceps strain, is 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his first three starts. Arredondo, called up May 13, is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in five games.

"We're driven by what our rotation and bullpen can do, and right now, they're performing the way we expected them to," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "They're keeping us afloat. . . . I don't know if there's been a better staff in baseball over the last 15 games or so."


It might have been the right time, but it must have been the wrong place. That was Chone Figgins' assessment when asked if he came back from a right hamstring strain too soon.

Figgins came off the disabled list and played one game on Toronto's artificial turf on May 21. The third baseman hasn't played since, missing the last six games because of soreness in his leg.

"Maybe I shouldn't have come back on turf," said Figgins, who might be headed back to the DL. "I'm just trying to calm it down." He said he feels that "if I let it heal for a couple of days" he could avoid the DL.


The Angels gained some depth Tuesday night. Outfielder Reggie Willits, who suffered a deep cut on the middle finger of his right hand Saturday, pinch-hit in the eighth inning, reached on an infield single and scored. Robb Quinlan, sidelined for two days because of a tight groin, entered at third base in the ninth.

"We're looking forward to having a bench tonight," Scioscia said before the game. "You take it for granted until you don't have it. We have a really deep team, but when you're looking at names and you know what they can do, but they're unavailable, it gets frustrating."


Second baseman Howie Kendrick resumed his rehabilitation assignment Tuesday night, playing five innings for triple-A Salt Lake against Colorado Springs.

Kendrick, out since April 14 because of a left hamstring strain, struck out and grounded out to shortstop. He hadn't played since aggravating the injury May 6 with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. Barring a setback, Kendrick could be activated by this weekend.


Vladimir Guerrero ranked third among outfielders, behind Manny Ramirez and Ichiro Suzuki, in the first American League balloting update for the July 15 All-Star game in Yankee Stadium. No other Angel ranked among the top five vote-getters at his position, though Torii Hunter was ninth among outfielders.


Tigers left fielder Gary Sheffield was placed on the DL Tuesday because of an oblique injury. Detroit recalled top prospect Jeff Larish, a left-handed-hitting first baseman, from triple-A Toledo. Larish will join the team for tonight's game.



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