Haren and Pujols come up big: are the Angels finally turning the corner?

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At some point you have to hit rock bottom. It’s just that, if you can’t hit anything, even rock bottom looks hard.  But maybe last night the Angels finally turned things around, putting together a game that went the way they hoped things would go often this year.

The Pujols signing aside, the team’s strength heading into the season was its rotation, with four guys — Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana — who could lead most teams’ rotations.  It’s been an erratic year for them so far, but last night Haren pitched a four-hitter and struck out 14.  While he’s still only 2-5, he lowered his ERA to 3.76 and, for once, got a couple of runs to work with.

Those runs came from the other piece of the puzzle: Albert Pujols. He hit a homer and singled twice, driving in two of the three Angels runs. It’s a modest turnaround so far, but he has hit in nine of his last ten games and has raised his average and his OBP by nearly 30 points since Mike Scioscia gave him a day off on May 5.

False hope? Reading too much into a performance against a poor Mariners team? Something to grow on?  It could be any or all of those things. But for at least one night, the script was followed for Anaheim.

Brandon Morrow injured his back taking off his pants

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The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.

We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”

Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.