MIAMI -- He is looking so confident and comfortable, it's easy to forget this is only Jordan Walden's second season as a relief pitcher. The Texan had been a starter in his early professional years, but injuries and the desire to exploit his two best pitches -- high 90s heat and a sharp slider -- made him a natural for relief.
Following in the footsteps of Troy Percival, with whom he's most frequently compared, Walden has 10 consecutive successful save efforts and is 17 for 20 overall. The Angels closer has been blazing as the weather has warmed up, striking out 12 of the 22 batters he has faced this month. Five of his past six outs have been strikeouts, and he wrapped up Jered Weaver's 2-1 decision over the Marlins on Monday night quickly, needing only 12 pitches.
"I felt good," Walden said grinning. "I like this weather. It's kind of like home [Fort Worth]. I've never faced these guys. One thing I noticed was that it's real dark here. It's different."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia is impressed with Walden's demeanor since he inherited the closer's role from Fernando Rodney early in the season and ran with it.
"He's definitely grown," Scioscia said. "His confidence has grown as he's gotten in that role. You can be confident and feel you're ready, but until you do it, you never know. He's taken this challenge and gone full bore. He's really having a terrific season."
Hot hitters take seat as Callaspo returns
MIAMI -- Maicer Izturis and Vernon Wells, two of the Angels' hottest hitters, were on the bench on Tuesday night against the Marlins, with Alberto Callaspo returning to action and Bobby Abreu, Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter forming the outfield.
Callaspo, stationed at third base, hadn't started a game since June 11, when he departed in the seventh inning with a pulled left hamstring. He is trying to bust out of a slump that has him hitless in his past 18 at-bats. Izturis had three hits in Monday night's 2-1 victory, scoring the decisive run on Hunter's slow roller, and is hitting .438 during the past four games.
Wells, hitting .308 in the past 10 games -- with six homers and 14 RBIs in his past 20 games -- had the night off to get Bourjos' speed and defense back in center field and to make sure Bobby Abreu had a shot at Javier Vazquez. Abreu has 10 career homers against the veteran right-hander, and his next double moves him past legendary Rogers Hornsby on the all-time list. Abreu also is tied with Todd Helton with 541 career doubles.
"I guess he drew the short straw," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Wells. "He's been playing a lot of games. We definitely want Bobby in there. Of all the guys taken out of the lineup, Bobby affects us more than [anybody] with that left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup."
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Abreu has been hitting fourth of late to break up Hunter and No. 5 hitter Howard Kendrick, both right-handed hitters. Kendrick was elevated to the No. 2 spot against Vazquez, between Aybar and Hunter. Callaspo was in the No. 5 spot with Russell Branyan -- four homers in 11 career at-bats against Vazquez -- getting the start at first base in place of Mark Trumbo.
"Maybe it gives Torii a little protection," Scioscia said of having Abreu hit behind Hunter rather than in front of him, as in recent seasons. "Maybe Torii was expanding his zone a little too much. If Torii's going to take a walk, you have Bobby right there."
Hank Conger was given the start behind the plate, with Jeff Mathis having worked the previous two games. Third catcher Bobby Wilson is 2-for-2 against Vazquez with a homer.
Kohn returns to Angels with better command
MIAMI -- Michael Kohn, having been summoned from Triple-A Salt Lake, was all smiles as he renewed acquaintances with good buddy Jordan Walden and the rest of the Angels before Tuesday night's game against the Marlins.
Kohn arrived on Monday night during the rain delay, but he was a little frazzled. He'd taken an early flight out of Seattle, caught a connection in Dallas, reached Miami and sat in a cab in rush-hour traffic to reach Sun Life Stadium on Monday night. He wasn't needed to pitch, and it probably was a good thing.
"It was a pretty long day," Kohn said grinning, "but I'm here. It's good to see everybody. It's been a while."
Kohn appeared in the first two games of the season in Kansas City, holding the lead for Jered Weaver in the opener and then serving a walk-off homer to Kila Ka'aihue in the second game. Kohn, who'd performed capably in his rookie year in 2010, appeared in three more games and was sent to Salt Lake on April 10.
"I went down there to smooth out my delivery, get a little quicker to the plate," Kohn said. "I probably had a little hitch or pause in there. I worked on my slider as much as I could. Basically, I went back to the way I was throwing in Spring Training. I just need to be more consistent with my breaking ball."
Kohn, who will be 25 on Sunday, had a 2.67 ERA and seven saves in Salt Lake, with 42 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings. With the Angels last year, 19 of his final 21 appearances were scoreless.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.