ANAHEIM -- The Angels have been employing a slight variation at the top of the lineup, and while they haven't declared it permanent, they'll ride it as long as it produces.
The main tweak inserts Orlando Cabrera into the second hole and places Darin Erstad third in the batting order. While that is a shift from most of the season that saw Chone Figgins and Erstad hitting one/two, the objective remains the same: feeding the middle and providing Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson with RBI opportunities.
"We change lineups all the time," hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. "Right now, it is working for us and the reason it is working is Vlad and Garret are hitting. When those guys are producing, we're going to score runs."
The Angels offense this season requires significantly more managing than it has in the past and more so than many other offenses in the American League. The power lineups around the league, such as those of the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers, have the luxury of waiting for the home run.
Even Angels clubs in the past that had Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon or Jose Guillen complementing Guerrero could rally in the late innings via the big fly. The 2005 version cannot afford to wait and must find ways to manufacture runs by getting on, moving runners over and running the bases aggressively to create run-scoring situations for the middle of the lineup.
Hatcher sees two positives with the addition of Cabrera in the two-spot.
"The thing I like about Cabrera is you can put him in any lineup or offensive situation and he still wants to beat you," Hatcher said. "With Orlando second, that puts Ersty in a power situation. When he gets hot, he gets in a more aggressive mode and he can be dangerous."
Entering Wednesday's game with the Orioles, Cabrera had five RBIs in his last four games while Erstad was 9-for-26 and riding a six-game hitting streak. Figgins singled in the first inning Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, matching a career high.
"I think this lines up a little better for the style of ball that we play," Hatcher said.
On the farm:
Right-hander Steven Shell allowed a run on eight hits and two walks over seven innings in an 8-7 win for Double-A Arkansas over the Springfield Cardinals on Tuesday. Shell is 8-7 with a 4.20 ERA in 22 starts for the Travelers. Erick Aybar, Mike Napoli, and Kendry Morales all homered in the game.
The Angels will conclude their three-game series with the Orioles on Thursday at 1:05 p.m. PT. Right-handed rookie Ervin Santana will face Baltimore right-hander Rodrigo Lopez.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.