Thompson emerging as a force in bullpen

Thompson emerging as a force in bullpen

Thompson emerging as a force in bullpen
BOSTON -- The way Rich Thompson sees it, from a distinctly Down Under point of view, if it's good enough for Mariano Rivera, the cut fastball should be good enough for him.

"It's definitely a good pitch," said Thompson, who has been one of the Angels' most consistent relievers. "It's been good to Mariano, that's for sure. His is so late and hard -- 90, 91 [mph]. It looks like a fastball and moves like a lefty's sinker. That makes it tough to read for a hitter. You see that four-seamer coming your way and you're thinking fastball, then it cuts on you.

"The truth is, I'm kind of falling in love with that pitch."

Facing the Rays on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Thompson threw all cutters and curveballs to strike out the side and claim the victory as the offense rallied from a five-run deficit to prevail. The one changeup he threw was turned into a base hit.

The win was the Aussie's first against one loss, and he shaved his ERA to 2.51. Thompson leads a strong bullpen with 17 strikeouts against just one walk in 14 1/3 innings, holding hitters to a .218 batting average.

"Rich has made as much of a turnaround the last two, 2 1/2 years of his career as any pitcher I've seen," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His command has picked up, and [pitching coach] Mike Butcher introduced a cutter to his repertoire that has helped him get back in counts. He has three pitches that he has terrific command of now, and you see the results. The cutter has opened up some zones he couldn't get to before.

"If he keeps producing, he'll get an opportunity to pitch deeper in games."