The Angels paused their late-season slide Tuesday to remind their fans, and perhaps themselves, why exactly this team is a popular pick to make a deep playoff run, even to the World Series.
In their 9-6 win against Cleveland at Angel Stadium, the Angels showcased a formidable starting pitcher, as Zack Greinke earned his first win in an Angels uniform since joining the team in late July.
The Angels also displayed a potent offense, as two different players hit home runs (Erick Aybar, Albert Pujols) and three others drove in runs (Torii Hunter, Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo).
And by the end, the Angels' didn't need to call on the Rally Monkey, as the score was so lopsided in their favor that even their dreadful bullpen wasn't in a position to cost them a win.
That said, the Angels' bullpen made their fans uneasy when LaTroy Hawkins gave up a two-run home run to Casey Kotchman in the eighth inning that cut the Angels' lead to three runs.
Yes, it was just one win. Yes, Cleveland isn't exactly the 1927 New York Yankees. Yes, the Angels are 21/2 games out of a wild-card spot and seven games back of American League West-leading Texas.
But the win was a much-needed tourniquet for a club that coming in had lost nine of 12 games.
"It's just one game. You want to carry it over. I think the confidence is going to build in our team when we start to roll out there every night with a chance to win, no matter who we're playing," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We saw it for 21/2 months straight. We did it. And we need to get back into that game."
It took Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner when he pitched with Kansas City, four starts to earn his first win in an Angels uniform, but this one was a charm for the right-hander.
Greinke (1-1) was solid until the seventh, when Cleveland loaded the bases with only one out. He managed to get out of the inning after giving up two runs, striking out his final batter. He pitched seven innings, giving up four runs and eight hits, and striking out five.
"They've been playing great behind me," Greinke said. "I've just been pitching bad the last two outings. It's nice to put up a decent performance and keep us in the game."
Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez (9-12) lasted four innings. He gave up eight runs and eight hits.
Instead of falling into an early hole, the Angels dug one for their opponent, a deep one.
Mike Trout doubled to lead off the Angels' first, Hunter followed with a single, Pujols walked and Morales singled to drive in Hunter. The Indians had a meeting at the mound to talk things over. It did not yield any noticeable results. The Angels added three runs in the inning and that was just the start.
In the fourth, after Cleveland scored two runs, the Angels countered with four runs, the first coming on a home run to right-center field by Aybar. Then, Pujols hit his 26th home run of the season, a three-run shot that sailed down the left-field line and landed in the first row barely inside of the foul pole.
Pujols hit a run-scoring double to drive in Hunter in the sixth inning to pad the Angels lead.