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Why the Angels always have a chance

4/6/2011

In the first week of this season, a friendly little competition appears to be heating up between Jered Weaver and Dan Haren.

The two are in lock-step through their first two starts of the season. Weaver is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA. Haren is 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA.

Weaver has struck out 12 batters in 13 innings. After Wednesday's 5-1 win at Tropicana Field, Haren has struck out 12 batters in 14 2/3 innings.

Weaver has been slightly more dominant. Haren has given the Angels a bit more length. They've both been as efficient as machines, dispatching the first two lineups they've seen in assembly-line fashion. If those two keep this up, it would be foolish to count the Angels out. Two starting pitchers can pull a team a long way, even when they're hauling the rest of the team's baggage.

The Angels' issues -- which looked so worrisome after four games in Kansas City -- found quick answers in two games against an ice cold Tampa Bay team. One switch, Fernando Rodney for Jordan Walden at closer, fixed a bunch of stuff by itself. Since being named closer, Walden has gotten six outs without allowing a base runner.

Combine a shored-up back end of the bullpen with dominant starting pitching and the Angels' template for 2011 is beginning to show through.

Since last Aug. 29, Angels starters have a 2.75 ERA -- and that's with fifth starter Scott Kazmir dragging down the numbers. The only team in baseball that has been more dominant in that span is the San Francisco Giants, whose starters have a 2.38 ERA.

How'd that work out for them?