Halos flourishing with runners in scoring position

Halos flourishing with runners in scoring position

ARLINGTON -- The Angels' surge to the Major Leagues' second-best record behind American League West rival Oakland has been fueled by a variety of forces, not the least of which is an offense that has been punishing pitching staffs -- especially in clutch situations.

Over their past 23 games, an 18-5 stretch lifting them to 55-37, the Angels are batting .296 with 30 homers, averaging 6.1 runs per game. They're hitting .381 in 160 at-bats with runners in scoring position, emulating the 2013 Cardinals, who hit an unprecedented .330 for the season with men on second and/or third.

Only the Tigers, at .283, have a higher season average with runners in scoring position in the AL than the Angels' .272 mark. Not so coincidentally, Detroit's 27 comeback wins tie the Angels for the most in the Majors.

"Early in the year, guys were struggling with runners in scoring position," said leadoff man Kole Calhoun, hitting .297 with a .963 OPS and 16 RBIs in 37 opportunities in those situations. "Right now, with everybody swinging the bat well as a whole, we're feeling confident in those situations. Everybody's calming down too, getting their pitches to hit. With us playing so well, it kind of takes the pressure off."

Overall, the Angels lead the Majors in runs scored (463), rank third in batting average (.267), on-base percentage (.332) and slugging (.427) and are fifth in the Majors in homers with 101.

"A lot of guys are taking their walks, going first to third, doing a bunch of different stuff well," Calhoun said. "When you're playing good, it all seems to come together."

The June 25 return from femur surgery of hitting coach Don Baylor, with his vast experience and wisdom, appears to have had a positive imprint. The Angels lead the Majors in average (.306), runs (105) and slugging (.472) since the return of the venerable "Groove."

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