Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/10/12

There was no single reason for the slump the Los Angeles Angels' rotation slipped into for nearly two months. There were at least five of them -- one for each of the five starting pitchers.

The result was a 46-game stretch from June 28 through Aug. 20 during which the Angels' starters had a collective ERA of 5.71 that was out of sync with the individual track records and expected skill levels of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, C.J. Wilson and (for the final four weeks of that stretch) Zack Greinke.

Not coincidentally, the Angels were 19-27 during that span, putting themselves on the outskirts of the playoff race and setting up the need for a desperate run down the stretch if they are going to claim a postseason spot.

"If we were going to continue to struggle and not control the game on the mound the way we can, we had no chance," manager Mike Scioscia said.

They have a pretty good chance now.

The Angels closed to within a game of a wild-card spot by sweeping the Tigers over the weekend. Greinke's fourth consecutive outstanding start laid the foundation for Sunday's sweep-ending win. The Angels have now won 15 of their past 18.

Not surprisingly, the surge has been keyed by the rotation. Even with Weaver suffering a sore arm, Angels starters have a 2.91 ERA over the 18-game hot streak. Los Angeles starting pitchers have allowed two runs or fewer 14 times in those 18 games, including each of the past 10.

"The fact that some guys turned it around, the fact that Zack came in and is pitching to his capabilities gives us reason to be optimistic that we're going to be able to play at a high level and hopefully play well enough to get into the playoffs," Scioscia said.

"There's no doubt it's big. If you look at why the A's are competing, if you look at Tampa and why they're competing, I think it puts an exclamation mark on how you need to control that defensive end. You need those guys on the mound to give your offense a chance to get going. Oakland is doing a terrific job of it. For probably three months, we did a terrific job of it. As that eroded, it just re-affirms the importance of getting a guy like Zack to come over and the other guys to pitch to their capabilities."

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