Have Angels regained their momentum?
Where were these guys last week? Or, for that matter, the week before that?
The Angels team that defeated the Boston Red Sox for a second time in two days bears no resemblance to the team that fumbled through the first 19 days of this month. This team looks more like the one Angels fans saw in May and June and part of July.
Perhaps most significant, right-hander Jered Weaver looked a lot like the pitcher who began the season 15-1 before losing his previous two starts. But Wednesday night at Fenway Park, he pitched seven effective innings, beat the Red Sox 7-3 and won for the first time since Aug. 6.
"It's no secret to anybody that Jered Weaver is the staff ace, no matter what staff he's on," infielder Maicer Izturis told FOX Sports West after the game.
Weaver pitched like an ace just five days after surrendering a career-high nine runs to the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. He got early run support from the bottom part of the hitting order and shut down the Boston offense after taking a 4-2 lead through four innings.
The Nos. 6 through 9 Angels hitters – Howie Kendrick, Izturis, Erick Aybar and Chris Iannetta – were a collective 10 for 16 with three RBI and six RBI. Kendrick crushed his seventh home run of the season in the sixth inning, a shot into the seats above the Green Monster.
One reason for concern: Albert Pujols left the game in the fourth inning after feeling tightness in his right calf running the bases in the fourth inning. Manager Mike Scioscia said Pujols will be examined Thursday but offered no prediction about whether he'll be able to play in the series finale.
Pujols was 2 for 2 at the time he departed and scored the Angels' third run after a leadoff double in the fourth against Red Sox starter Clay Buccholz. Getting that lead undoubtedly gave Weaver a sense of ease, and although he gave back two runs in the bottom of the inning, he retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.
"Any time you can get wins and you're putting runs on the board and pitching well, that's huge for a team's morale," Kendrick said. "Being able to score runs early and give your pitcher some confidence and give him the ability to pitch with a lead is huge also. The first couple of nights we've been able to do that."
The Angels started the month losing 13 of 18 games, including a horrendous homestand against the A's, Indians and Rays. If there was a bottom, that was it. But with two consecutive wins – only the second time in August they've won two in a row – they appear rejuvenated again.
But moving forward isn't going to be easy.
The Angels remained 8½ games behind the first-place Texas Rangers in the American League West, but it's beginning to feel like their fate will be determined in the wild card race. Tampa Bay, Oakland and Detroit all won, but the Angels gained a game on the Baltimore Orioles.
Their move, if they have one, it going to be in bits and pieces, not by leaps and bounds.