The Angels are again leading the AL West and are the favorite to win their fourth division title in five seasons. The bad news is, they'd only outscored opponents 292--291 through Sunday, an indication that the team isn't as good as its 42--28 record. A 30--12 mark in games decided by two or fewer runs has been the difference. Sabermetric studies have shown that a team's record in close games isn't necessarily connected to its overall quality—sometimes the performance can be summed up as luck. But relief pitching does have a tangible influence in close games, and the Angels' bullpen, already strong with Francisco Rodriguez (above) and Scot Shields, has gotten a boost from rookie Jose Arredondo, who's struck out nine without a walk in his first 13 innings in the majors. That trio will continue to give the Angels an edge in close games.
ROBERT BECK (RODRIGUEZ)