Manager: Mike Scioscia, 15th year
Last 10 games: 6-4
Who to watch: CF Mike Trout (.302/.390/.592, 30 doubles, 24 HR, 76 RBIs, 72 R); 1B Albert Pujols (.273/.325/.472, 22 doubles, 20 HR, 66 RBIs, 60 R); RF Kole Calhoun (.290/.346/.492, 11 HR, 30 RBIs); RHP Garrett Richards (11-3, 2.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
Season series vs. O’s: 1-2, 7 runs scored, 10 runs allowed
If reading about the Angels feels like deja vu, think about how the Orioles must feel.
Baltimore and Los Angeles meet for the second time in three series, this time at Camden Yards as the Angels open a three-city, eight-game road trip that begins with an East Coast swing against the Orioles and Rays.
When the Orioles started their last series with the Angels, all of eight days ago, the Halos were easily the hottest team in baseball. They rode a scorching offense to win 21 of 26 games... and then the Orioles cooled them down.
The Angels lost two of three to Baltimore, snapping a streak of five straight series wins. Los Angeles also dropped the first two games of the set against the Orioles for its first (and only) set of consecutive losses since June 15-16.
The Angels proceeded to lose the first game of a four-game series with the Tigers, but have since started to get back on track with three victories in a row to wrap that series. Even with its winning pace slowed over the last week, Los Angeles remains in second place in the American League West and 1 1/2 games out of first, while still possessing the second-best record in baseball.
The Angels haven’t heated back up on the strength of their bats, but thanks to their arms.
In the last three games against Detroit, Los Angeles scored just eight total runs, but allowed only two.
That has the Angels up to fourth in the AL with a 3.70 team ERA and a 3.71 starters’ ERA. The club ranks eighth with a 3.66 bullpen ERA.
In tonight’s series opener, right-handers Jered Weaver and Chris Tillman will go head-to-head for the second meeting between opening day starters in six games. Weaver held the Orioles to two runs in eight innings on Wednesday, lowering his ERA to 3.36 while earning his 11th win. Tillman had a solid start as well, holding the Angels to one run in six frames before Tommy Hunter blew the save and took the loss.
Outside of that, the Orioles will get a different look at the Angels pitching-wise. Instead of facing Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago as they did in Anaheim, the Birds will go up against 26-year-old right-hander Garrett Richards and 22-year-old lefty Tyler Skaggs.
The Orioles might’ve lucked out in missing Richards the first time, but aren’t so fortunate this week. Richards ranks sixth in the AL with a 2.62 ERA and his 11 wins are one off the AL lead. He did slip up a little his last start, allowing four runs in six innings to end a streak of nine consecutive quality starts and suffer his first loss since May 30.
But even with that performance, Richards is 7-1 with a 1.66 ERA and .170 opponents’ batting average in his last 10 starts. Richards will face Kevin Gausman (4-3, 3.67 ERA) on Wednesday in a match-up between exciting young right-handers.
On Thursday, Skaggs will continue to try to turn around from a rough pair of outings where he allowed 11 runs in 11 2/3 innings. He was better in his last start, holding Detroit to one run in 5 2/3 innings. He’ll face Bud Norris in the series finale.
Offensively, the Angels remain one of the most potent teams in the majors even though they’ve cooled since the start of the last series with the Orioles. Los Angeles has been held to 19 runs in its last seven games, averaging just 2.7 per game during that stretch while averaging 4.9 all season.
The Angels still are second in the majors with 508 runs, third with a .265 average and fourth with a .749 OPS. They have seven starters with an OPS of at least .720 with center fielder Mike Trout leading the pack.
Trout has struggled over his last seven games, batting .154 with a .549 OPS. But overall this season, he leads the AL with a .982 OPS and 72 runs, is second with 30 doubles, fourth with 76 RBIs and fifth with 25 homers. So, not too shabby.
First baseman Albert Pujols has provided the primary support to Trout with 22 doubles, 20 homers, 66 RBIs, 60 runs and a .797 OPS. Shortstop Erick Aybar has added 23 doubles and 51 RBIs while second baseman Howie Kendrick has contributed 22 doubles and 45 RBIs.
Left fielder Josh Hamilton is dealing with a sore left knee, but he was able to start Sunday after leaving Friday’s game and sitting out Saturday.
Aside from seeing new starting pitching in the series, these two teams are pretty familiar with each other, having just played. It was an entertaining set on the West Coast with each of the three games decided by two runs or fewer. It should be another quality meeting between playoff contenders, this time with the Orioles back home for the first time in more than two weeks.