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Rounding Third: Angels making some noise again out West

By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It may have taken some time, but the plan that Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem owner Arte Moreno and general manager Jerry DiPoto put into place prior to the 2012 season is starting to come to fruition.

And just think ... it only cost them nearly half a billion to get there.

No team has been more disappointing the last two seasons than the Angels. Big things were expected following the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in 2012 and Josh Hamilton last year.

Mike Trout's emergence helped the Halos make a late charge in 2012, but last year the team was can't-get-out-of-their-way bad at times and finished six games under .500 and 18 games back in the American League West.

And that is with Trout emerging even further as the best young player in baseball, with him finishing second in the AL MVP race for a second consecutive season.

It's actually kind of amazing that manager Mike Scioscia was able to weather the storm considering the amount of money Moreno put into the team and the fact that a team that had been a mainstay in the AL postseason has now missed the playoffs in four straight seasons.

But to his credit, Scioscia is still one of the best managers in baseball. It's not as if he just forgot how to manage overnight. I like to judge a managerial change in one way: how quick would the fired one be hired.

In Scioscia's case, he would have been out of work for about a minute.

Oh, and the close to $30 million remaining on his contract probably had something to do with it.

Regardless, after spending like drunken sailors the past few offseasons, the Angels had nothing to show for it. Injuries, of course, were the biggest culprit, but they just weren't a good team, either.

And it looked like 2014 was going to be more of the same when Hamilton was befallen by a thumb injury in early April that was going to need surgery and cost him two months.

That was on top of David Freese being injured and Kole Calhoun missing time as well.

But a funny thing happened: the Angels actually played well. And now they seem to be fully healthy for the first time in a long time, and guess what? They are knocking on the door of the Oakland Athletics in the AL West.

In fact, if the season ended today, the Angels would be the top wild card in the AL.

"Certainly, when we you get some guys that have been out of the lineup back in, you have to feel good about the direction you're going to go in," Scioscia said. "Those guys are starting to contribute and it's fun. It's been fun to watch."

Hamilton homered in his return on June 3 and is hitting .344 with six RBI in the eight games since he's been back.

But, it's not just the players returning from injury, the Angels have made the Big A a house of horrors for the opposition of late. Since May 15, they are 11-3 in front of their fans and have not dropped any of their four series there, including one to Oakland this week.

"There's times in the last couple years where you show up to the clubhouse and didn't know if you were going to win or lose," Angels ace Jered Weaver said. "That's never a good feeling. When I was first coming up, it was always a winning mentality, we knew we were going to win that game. We're starting to get that feel back, that winning mentality back."

Speaking of Weaver, don't sell his resurgence short, either. The talented righty only made 24 starts a year ago because of injuries, but is 7-4 with a 3.31 ERA this season.

However, in his last 10 starts, he's reminded everyone of the pitcher who won 20 games just two years ago, as he has allowed more than two earned runs just twice in that span and struck out a season-high nine batters his last time out.

Take a look at the AL. Outside of Oakland - a team the Angels have beaten five straight times, by the way - is there another team out there that scares you?

Now fully healthy for the first time in a long time, there is not a team better set up for the second half than the Angels. And we know they will go out and get a player at the deadline if they need one.

Trout was probably denied at least one MVP the last two years because his team didn't make the playoffs. I have a feeling voters won't be able to use that excuse this time around.

06/11 13:06:12 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
 
4th
UTAH 17
USC 21
 
3rd
WASH 0
ARST 10
 
2nd
HAW 7
NEV 0
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14