Maybe it's no coincidence that Josh Hamilton didn't get a hit for the first time in 13 games on Tuesday and the Angels lost.
The Angels have quietly been playing solid baseball over the last month or so. They've won 16 of their past 24 games, and Hamilton has had his fingerprints all over their recent success.
The Angels are 10-0 in the last 10 games in which Hamilton has driven in a run.
Overall this season, they're 18-6 when the former American League MVP has an RBI. They're 25-40 when Hamilton is held without an RBI.
"Josh is moving towards what we hope will be the normal production we expect from a player of his caliber, and he's been swinging the bat much better," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said recently.
Hamilton and the Angels will close out a two-game Interleague set with the Cubs on Wednesday before a day off Thursday and three straight against the Mariners leading into the All-Star break.
While Hamilton is still hitting .227, well below his .296 career average, he's been heating up, as have the Angels.
"It is about, 'What have you done for me lately,' no matter what," Hamilton said last week. "I haven't done a whole lot, but I felt good this last road trip, coming back home, having good at-bats."
"This is a long season," Albert Pujols said. "I went through it last year, I'm going through it again this year. You stay positive, man. People don't understand what you go through every day and how hard it is because they don't get to see you every day. ... We know this is a long season, and good players like him, they find a way to figure it out. At the end of the season, I think his numbers are going to be there. As long as he stays simple -- and myself, too -- and not try to be a hero."
With a fastball that averages 95 mph, Jeff Samardzija will take the mound for the Cubs on Wednesday looking to get back to his early-season success.
Samardzija struck out at least seven batters in nine of his first 13 starts this season but hasn't reached seven strikeouts in five straight. It might not be a concern if it wasn't paired with an increase in walks.
Over his last 34 1/3 innings, the right-hander has struck out 25 batters and walked 13, including five in his last outing, when he gave up five runs in a loss to the Pirates.
"There was no fastball command at all," manager Dale Sveum said. "There were a lot of fastballs, and he couldn't get ahead, couldn't put anybody away, kept missing by a ball on the plate."
Samardzija will try to outduel C.J. Wilson, who has allowed one earned run in his last two starts while striking out 15. The Angels lefty is 4-1 in his past five starts.
Angels: Pujols questionable for Wednesday
With National League rules in play, the Angels may opt to rest Pujols for Wednesday's game at Wrigley Field.
The 33-year-old has played 54 games as the designated hitter this year and just 33 games at first base. He's hit .264 as the DH and .226 as the first baseman.
Asked if Pujols would be in the lineup Wednesday after he played in the field Tuesday, Scioscia said, "We're going to play tonight and see what happens."
Cubs: Bogusevic almost ready
Brian Bogusevic was hitting .290 before he was forced to the bench on July 4 with tightness in his left hamstring.
But the left-handed slugger could return as soon as Thursday when the Cubs will face the Cardinals.
"He's pretty close," Sveum said. "It looks like the way things have gone the last couple days, by the Cardinals series on Thursday, he should be ready to play in a game. I think he's at the point where he can pinch-hit and stay on the bases instead of using a pitcher to pinch-run before."
Bogusevic could boost the offensive production of an outfield that has included Julio Borbon and his .198 average.
• Travis Wood may get a chance to pitch in the All-Star Game, despite a scheduled start on Sunday. Wood, the lone representative from the Cubs, could pitch an inning on Tuesday, depending how Sunday goes.
• Alfonso Soriano is in vintage form lately. He homered twice Tuesday and has eight homers in his last 11 games.
• Hamilton started in left field Tuesday, allowing Mark Trumbo to get his at-bats in right field. Scioscia said that's a comfortable place for each of them to play, and Hamilton doesn't mind playing left field, if needed, to get Trumbo's powerful bat into the lineup.
• Angels shortstop Erick Aybar is hitting .303 since the beginning of June.