DID YOU KNOW? • SINCE FALLING TO .500 (29-29) on June 11, the Angels are 57-28. • THE ANGELS RANK SECOND IN MLB with 788 runs in 143 games, an average of 5.5 per game. • FOUR OF THE ANGELS' EIGHT 800-run seasons have come under manager Mike Scioscia. • THE ANGELS ARE TRYING to become the first AL West team to win three straight division titles since the 1988-90 A's. • THE ANGELS HAVE WON NINE GAMES this season after trailing by as many as four runs. • THE ANGELS ARE the only team in the Majors yet to lose four straight games in 2009. • ANGELS STARTERS HAVE ALLOWED one earned run or fewer in 10 of their last 15 games and two or fewer in 16 of their last 18 outings. • L.A. HAS POSTED 44 comeback wins this season, one shy of the club record set in 2004. • THE ANGELS WILL REACH three million in attendance for the seventh straight season, a streak only the Yankees and Dodgers can match. • AFTER A LOSING RECORD in April (9-12), the club is 77-44 since. --> WHO ARE THESE GUYS? • Figgins: Staying true • Angels: Road warriors • Figgins/Abreu: Spark plugs • Bullpen: Stepping up • Figgins: The ignitor • Scioscia: Fundamental key • Vlad: Focused on present • Hatcher: Enjoying success • Scioscia: Approach the key • Aybar: More than just glove • Morales: Putting it together • Abreu: Lauded by 'mates • Wilson: Not alone • Vlad: Resume builder • Weaver: Family matters • Abreu: Hall of Famer? • Saunders: Overcame injury • Lackey: Playoff veteran • Kazmir: Ties to Morales • Jepsen: Remembering Nick • Weaver: Path to pros • Hunter: Humbled by honor • Lackey: It all began in '02 • Weaver: Growing as player • Reagins: Built from within • Morales: Back in the groove • Abreu: Influence extends • Scioscia: Catcher at heart • Lackey: Halos' leader • Morales: Gomez's legacy • Abreu: Embracing his role • Jepsen: Honoring Adenhart • Lackey: Takes place as ace • Weaver: Glue of staff • Scioscia: Postseason fixture • Morales: Perseverance More Angels coverage • Halos' title run comes to an end Vlad's gaffe latest blunder on bases Angels won't let rain stall momentum Who will handle changes best? Rain-induced rest should benefit both Rain may clear way for Lackey in Game 7 Halos ready for Round 6 of tight tussle Escape to New York: Angels take Game 5 Bauman: Moves don't cost Halos in the end Bats finally break out against Yankees Angels place fate in Lackey's hands Mathis brings QB skills to job Sporting News tabs Scioscia top skipper Halos staying positive despite deficit Stymied by CC, Angels on the brink California weather suits Lackey Umpires shaky on several Game 4 calls UConn tragedy hits home for Scioscia Kazmir rady for Game 4 Mathis lifts Angels in Game 3 Bauman: Halos prove they're a tough out Momentum shift in store for Game 4? Kendrick sparks rally Mathis delivers biggest hit of career Vlad silences critics Kazmir gets chance to prove worth Vlad remains in cleanup role Home cooking could revive Angels Halos not making excuses Hunter saw A-Rod's homer coming Angels drop heartbreaker in Game 2 Weaver in control at home in Game 3 'D' betraying Halos at worst possible time Halos falling short in RISP-y situations Neighborhood non-call the 'right call' Figgins' slump-buster nearly a game-winner Saunders rewards Scioscia's faith Halos come to life in wild fifth Defense abandons Angels in Game 1 Yankees benefit on close call at first Fielding miscues costly in Game 1 Saunders ready after long break Angels stun Sox in ninth, finish sweep Halos bury demons at Fenway Moreno revels in Angels' sweep Red Sox tip their hats to Angels Left side of infield a strength Fuentes wraps up phenomenal ALDS Vlad's heroics a long time coming Aybar rises to occasion in Game 3 Halos ready to go after late arrival Fenway doesn't faze Kazmir Angels making Sox taste own medicine Abreu getting due credit Oliver has reinvented himself Weaver's gem puts Angels in control Game 3 setup forces Angels to adjust Aybar, Izturis live up to clutch reputations Weavers etch spot in postseason lore Lackey baffles Red Sox in Game 1 Weaver must set aside second-half falloff Napoli earns Game 2 rematch with Beckett With 10 pitchers, Halos set ALDS roster Halos need quick start against Sox Lackey eyes October success Angels twice as tough at second Early adversity a motivation Fuentes set to thrive in playoffs Angels need wins at the Big A Bulger raring to face Red Sox Abreu embodies aggressive style Angels healthy, deep in rematch Halos out to end hex Ready for ALDS, Kazmir mows down A's Weaver excels in final tuneup Angels drop regular-season home finale Halos team up to one-hit Rangers Angels wrap up AL playoff picture History vs. Sox means nothing to Torii Angels shuffle rotation in wake of title Halos tee up title clincher by holding off A's Huge lead becomes crushing loss Magic number still four as A's win Gloves recharged, Angels believe Angels on losing side of duel in finale Morales providing value daily to Angels Angels get breather, then go back to grind Oliver's skills highly valued by Angels Halos rally to tie Yanks, fall in end Saunders puzzles Yankees in series opener Kendrick's five RBIs help Lackey win No. 102 Angels willing to learn Abreu's lessons Napoli trying to recapture Fenway magic Halos fall in makeup game with Yanks Hunter's homer drives Halos past Sox Angels fall despite late rally Angels down White Sox, pad lead Lackey goes distance, silences Mariners"/>

Lackey Halos' acknowledged leader

Lackey Halos' acknowledged leader

ARLINGTON -- The pulse of the Angels' pitching staff? From one insider's viewpoint, it's found in the right arm, the heart and the voice of big John Lackey.

"He's Papa Bear," middle reliever Matt Palmer said of the Angels' ace, who is on his best run of the season as he prepares to face the Rangers on Sunday. "Nobody calls him that, but that's who he is.

Pulse
Angels at a glance
2009 record: 97-65
2008 record: 100-62
AL West champs

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Figgins: Staying true
Angels: Road warriors
Figgins/Abreu: Spark plugs
Bullpen: Stepping up
Figgins: The ignitor
Scioscia: Fundamental key
Vlad: Focused on present
Hatcher: Enjoying success
Scioscia: Approach the key
Aybar: More than just glove
Morales: Putting it together
Abreu: Lauded by 'mates
Wilson: Not alone
Vlad: Resume builder
Weaver: Family matters
Abreu: Hall of Famer?
Saunders: Overcame injury
Lackey: Playoff veteran
Kazmir: Ties to Morales
Jepsen: Remembering Nick
Weaver: Path to pros
Hunter: Humbled by honor
Lackey: It all began in '02
Weaver: Growing as player
Reagins: Built from within
Morales: Back in the groove
Abreu: Influence extends
Scioscia: Catcher at heart
Lackey: Halos' leader
Morales: Gomez's legacy
Abreu: Embracing his role
Jepsen: Honoring Adenhart
Lackey: Takes place as ace
Weaver: Glue of staff
Scioscia: Postseason fixture
Morales: Perseverance

"John takes care of all the pitchers. He does it with his actions. You see what he does on the mound, the enthusiasm he has in the dugout, his work ethic. He can be calm, and he can be intense. You always know he's there."

Lackey's intensity can drive him to extraordinary heights, and it can be seen in his mannerisms and his words, especially after a loss that doesn't taste good.

Lackey was critical of the Angels' defense -- including his own, given that his throwing error contributed to his demise -- following a 4-1 loss in Boston in his most recent start.

"We've got to play better baseball," Lackey said. "I've got to make that play, and we've got to execute."

He also mentioned that the offense needed to take care of business, as it had so proficiently from June through August before running into a September cold spell.

Lackey's open, unsparing critique of his team didn't seem to bother his manager at all.

"John has always spoken his mind," Mike Scioscia said. "When guys make great plays, he says it. Our guys understand. John makes a bad pitch, he'll be the first to say it.

"I don't think there ever will be a time he doesn't speak his mind. He understands how hard the guys play."

Palmer said he didn't read Lackey's comments, but he welcomes any strong words the big man has to offer.

"You see Lackey and Torii [Hunter], those are the two guys who have the ability and authority to stick out and speak out," Palmer said. "As a team, there's a time to be aggressive and a time not to be aggressive. Those are the guys who speak out and enforce for us.

"They aren't the only guys who have things to say, but the media goes to them -- and they should. They've earned it. Torii Hunter is in the media all the time, and he should be. That's just who he is.

"Believe me, when John has something to say, everybody wants to hear it. But he usually leads with his actions, the way he carries himself."

The Angels don't have a lot of outgoing players who are known for colorful quotes and expansive repartee. But Hunter is about as good as it gets, and Lackey, as Scioscia noted, never has been shy about expressing an opinion.

"You need that on a team," Palmer said. "When Torii and John spoke out, we were losing, and we weren't playing well. They weren't happy about it. That's the way I took it.

"That's the attitude I take to the ballpark, and I think that's how we are as a team. We're not going to take any [abuse], and we're going to defend our territory. We are relaxed as a team, but when it's time to go to work, we go to work.

"And on the pitching staff, John is Papa Bear."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.