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Scioscia sees offensive potential

June 24, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Angels offense has shown signs of life, scoring 35 runs, an average of 5.0, in their last seven games. Mike Scioscia thinks there's more where that came from. A lot more.

"I think our lineup, with the way we run the bases, with what our guys can do when they hit stride, is pretty deep," the Angels manager said. "I think we have the potential to score more than 5-6 runs a game. We've seen glimpses the last couple of weeks, but we need more."

The Angels averaged 4.8 runs a game in April. Then leadoff batter Chone Figgins was injured, and they sank to an average of 3.6 runs in May, a month in which they hit .230.

But Vladimir Guerrero went on a tear in June, Maicer Izturis got hot, Casey Kotchman continued to produce and Gary Matthews Jr. began to warm. Howie Kendrick returned May 30 after a six-week absence because of injury, and Figgins returned June 13, and the Angels upped their average to 4.3 runs in June.

With the exception of Izturis' tight right hamstring, the Angels are virtually at full strength offensively, and there is already speculation they won't make any effort to add another bat before the July 31 trade deadline.

"If we can maintain this," Scioscia said, "we should be able to pressure teams every inning."

Numbers game

Angels pitching has been superb, the reason the team is 47-30, remarkable considering that on June 9, the Angels had given up two more runs on the season than they had scored. Run differential is usually a leading indicator of success.

"We went all of May without even a minimal offense," Scioscia said. "Do the math. If you have a team earned-run average of 3.90 and are averaging 3.6 runs a game, it doesn't add up."

The Angels returned to the plus side of the ledger with their recent surge. They have scored 327 runs, 14 more than their opponents. But they still rank 11th in the American League in runs and are averaging 4.2 per game.

"It's a nice stat to give you some guidelines," Scioscia said, when asked whether he put much stock into run differential. "But there are other indicators that are more important. Look at our pitching, what the starters and relievers are doing. They've been extraordinary."

The starters have a major league-leading 40 victories and a 3.75 ERA, third-best in the league. The top four relievers, Francisco Rodriguez, Scot Shields, Jose Arredondo and Darren Oliver, combined for a 2.41 ERA in 115 2/3 innings.

Endless possibilities

Rodriguez, who earned his major league-leading 31th save Monday, is on pace for 65 saves, which would shatter Bobby Thigpen's record of 57, set in 1990, but why stop there?

"If we're going to scratch for runs like we have the last 50 games and get the kind of starting pitching we have been, he may end up with 100 saves," Scioscia said. "But if the offense picks it up and produces like it can, he may not get as many save opportunities."

Playing it safe

Izturis, who was pulled from Saturday's game at Philadelphia, sat out his second straight game Monday and will probably sit out the series against the Nationals.

"He's feeling better," Scioscia said, "but we're going to give him a couple of days to get this all worked out of him. He's available, but we want to stay away from using him."


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