Angels outfielder Mike Trout, right, is congratulated by teammate Howie… (Jason Miller / Getty Images )
CLEVELAND — Angels Manager Mike Scioscia likes to compare the American League standings to a report card, his point being the only grade that really counts is the one given at the end of the year.
But most students also get a midterm progress report. And the grades for that were in Tuesday after the Angels reached the midway point of their season at 45-36 in an ugly, rain-interrupted loss to the Cleveland Indians.
"First semester, I would definitely have to give it a B," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "We started off with a D and worked our butt off, started to figure some things out, made some changes and ended up getting a B for the semester.
"Now we're in the flow of things and our goal is to get an A for the second semester."
If the Angels were simply to match their first-half performance the rest of the way, they would finish 90-72. And though they are entering the second half leading the AL wild-card race, they're also trailing the Texas Rangers by five games in the division race.
But nobody in the Angels' clubhouse expects the team to settle for simply matching a first half they started by going 8-15 in April. Since then, they've won 37 of 58 games, the best record in the majors over that span.
"We definitely turned the corner a while ago," left-hander C.J. Wilson said. "It happened a little bit before we started playing better. It's one of those things where the team has to come together a little bit before you take off.
"That's what happened in April. We just started really pulling together and the results came after that."
Scioscia agrees, saying it's how the Angels are playing now, not how they played in the first half, that will ultimately determine their final grade.
"Our guys have turned this season around," he said. "We've righted the ship and are playing great baseball. So that's what's important. Not really where we are at the halfway point or what our record is.
"We're playing well and that's what we're going to keep focusing on doing."
Home for the holiday
Wednesday's Independence Day date with the Angels will mark the 70th time since 1901 that the Indians have played a home game on the Fourth of July, five more than the next-closest franchise, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Including doubleheaders, Cleveland is 59-41 in July 4 home games and 83-73 overall. The Angels are 26-28.
Wells on the mend
Vernon Wells threw Tuesday for what he said was the first time since undergoing surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb in late May.
Asked how it went, the outfielder smiled and said, "It's like riding a bike."
Wells, who was transferred to the 60-day disabled list three weeks ago, isn't eligible to be reactivated until late July.