COMMENTARY | That large sigh heard from southern California recently was the sound of a collective display of relief from fans of the Los Angeles Angels.
For good reason, fans of the team have been concerned about the lack of production from their star player and most prized asset, Albert Pujols. They needn't worry any longer, as Pujols has found his swing and is hitting like a future Hall-of-Famer once again.
All of the attention will deservedly be on Pujols throughout the season. But if the Angels, who now move into sole possession of second place behind the Texas Rangers, make a postseason run it will be because of their outstanding starting pitching.
Angels starters have played extremely well of late, allowing no more than three runs in 10 of the last 12 games.
"Our starting pitchers are giving us a chance to win every night," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "Combine that with the bullpen forming, combine that with guys swinging the bats closer to our capability, that equation is adding up to wins."
It's easy to forget that while Pujols is the $240 million man, the team has invested a significant amount of money in its starting staff. C.J. Wilson signed a lucrative free-agent contract alongside Pujols during the offseason and has his own high expectations from fans and the front office.
Pitching, though, is not as glamorous as the long ball. But it will win more games than a few home runs, and the Angels need their hurlers to continue their strong play. Pujols' slump was the most notable of the team's struggles, but the starting pitching was perhaps the biggest disappointment prior to its current resurgence.
Baseball is a funny game, and sometimes its nuances include contagious play among teammates on all fronts, good or bad. There is no better time than the present for the team to heat up in every aspect.
Wilson will have an opportunity to earn his paycheck when he takes the mound against the Mariners on Sunday. The good news for Angels fans is that the team looks primed and ready to give him some much-needed run support.
Pujols and the pitching staff are feeding of one another, and that's exactly how it should be for this ball club.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Angels. He has written for southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com.
Follow Michael on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets