On May 2 and 3, the Angels lost games to the Royals to wind up with a four game split in Kansas City. Leadoff hitter Gary Matthews Jr. was 0 for 4 in both games. Arriving home, Mike Scioscia made the first big adjustment to the Angels lineup this season - he moved Willits to leadoff. After 5 Games of trying Matthews batting 3rd (and the team going 2-3 in that span), he put Vlad 3rd. With the exception of one game of Figgins batting 2nd, Orlando Cabrera has been the #2 hitter during this adjustment period.
The Angels have now gone 8-2 with the Willits-OC-Vlad-GMJ setup. The team leads the majors with 47 First Inning runs scored. Credit goes all around - first for Scioscia's patient alchemy, 2nd for Matthews' having Vladdie's back and Reggie Willits performing in the Ecksteinesque sparkplug role.
The consistency of these 4 to create action has forced opposing pitchers to throw meaty fastball prayers to whoever is sitting pretty in the catbird 5th and 6th spot.
10 games is a small sample size yes, but an offense that seemed in need of a complete transfusion at the beginning of the month are carrying their own, allowing a formerly henpecked pitching staff to relax off of having to pitch perfect. The results so far are 8 quality starts, 8 games above .500, and a 3 game lead in the standings.