ARLINGTON, Texas -- In a season that veered off course early and still hasn't gone right, the Angels occasionally have shown glimpses of what they could be.
On good days, they find ways to get on base, move runners over and pressure their opponents with timely hits. On bad days, they seem lifeless and unable to do anything right.
Maybe, as Mark Trumbo said, it's an attitude. If the Angels get one -- if they figure out how to strut and glare and carry themselves like a team that refuses to lose -- they can still become a competitive team.
There hasn't been much of that this season. The Angels might win a game, but there is no carryover effect. What they lack more than anything is positive consistency.
Saturday, they showed some. They manufactured runs by playing small ball. They got a workmanlike start out of CJ Wilson, who came back after pitching to five batters Friday night. They got 3 13 hitless, scoreless innings from four relief pitchers. They even overcame another home run by Josh Hamilton.
"That's the way we need to play -- play with some attitude because that's how they play," Trumbo said after the Angels beat the Texas Rangers 4-2 at Rangers Ballpark. "If we go into it without a figurative chip on our shoulder, things can get away from you really quick with a ballclub like that."
The Angels didn't let that happen. They squared the series at one game each and now have a chance to take it from the Rangers on Sunday.
What would it mean? No sense answering that now because the Angels have been annoyingly inconsistent this season. Unless they can finally sustain a good effort by repeating it, they aren't going to chase down the first-place Rangers in the American League West, at least not this season.
"I don't know if we've reached our potential as a team just with one win this afternoon, but there were a lot of those things on the field we need to do," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our situational hitting was good, we kept innings going, we drove the ball. Even though we didn't knock the cover off the ball, we did a lot of little things and pitched well and made plays defensively to get a win."
All those things make for a happy clubhouse. For one day, it was easy to dismiss the season-long slump of Albert Pujols, whose average remained below .200 but who drew his first walk in 17 days. The music was cranked up, players were laughing and any concerns about their 16-19 record were momentarily forgotten.
The Angels manufactured runs, which is what winning teams do. In the seventh, for example, Trumbo drew a leadoff walk from Rangers starter Matt Harrison, and Howie Kendrick and Peter Bourjous each bunted for hits. Kendrys Morales, batting for Erick Aybar, followed with a sacrifice fly to the opposite field. Mike Trout's sac fly two batters later brought in another run.
"These things have to appear in your offense on a consistent basis," Scioscia said.
Wilson returned after rain forced him to abandon his start the previous night and pitched into the sixth inning. He gave up a home run to Hamilton -- these days, who doesn't? -- but otherwise was in command.
"CJ pitched with a lot of heart," Scioscia said. "Even when he was getting tired a little bit later, he was making pitches."
Wilson became the first pitcher since the Rangers' Aaron Myette in 2002 to start games on consecutive days. What he didn't want to do was lose Saturday after losing Friday.
He relied on his experience as a relief pitcher with the Rangers to get himself ready to return to the mound, not that it was easy. First, he had to convince Scioscia that he could come back on no rest.
"It's difficult," Wilson said, "but being a reliever for so long you develop a sort of 'I-have-to-pitch-tomorrow' routine. I guess I did enough convincing in Mike's office last night that I'd be ready to go."
Hamilton's homer -- his ninth in the past six games and 18th of the season -- tied the game at 2-2, and Wilson was pulled three batters later. But relievers David Carpenter, Jordan Walden, Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs didn't allow a hit the rest of the way.
The bullpen has been an obvious weakness on the Angels, but with Walden apparently having sorted out his control problems, Frieri fitting in nicely after arriving in a trade with the Padres and Downs recovered from a knee injury, it looks solid.
Wilson didn't get the win -- Carpenter picked up the victory, his first -- but he seemed satisfied afterward, knowing he had quieted many of the boos he heard all game. Fans here still believe he abandoned them when he signed a five-year deal with the Angels for 77.5 million in the offseason, even though the Rangers made little effort to bring him back. Instead, they pursued and signed Yu Darvish.
"I had a chance to hear the fans and their colorful insights on me, my career and what not," Wilson said of Friday night's start. "I'm just trying to get the hitters out. There's no benefit to making it emotional. You try to de-personalize it as much as possible."
Wilson knew the jeers were coming. After he warmed up Friday, he said, there was a male fan who stood and clapped for him as he walked in, saying, "I don't believe these people are saying this stuff. Way to tune that out, man. That was impressive."
"He started clapping, one guy," Wilson recalled. "And then one girl is like, 'I love you!' I'm like, 'OK, two people.' There's a really brave dozen people here that still are fans, and then there's 47,954 people that are obviously hoping to see me fail."
But that was really a footnote to the day. More important was how the Angels bounced back and won after a wrenching 10-3 defeat the night before.
The question is, can they sustain the good feelings?
"It's an attitude," said Trumbo. "There should be enough fire that everyone comes out a little angry. You want to take it to them.
"That's coming from me, but it's something that a lot of guys share."