Manager: Mike Scioscia, 15th year
Last 10 games: 8-2
Who to watch: CF Mike Trout (.313/.400/.612, 29 doubles, 23 HR, 74 RBIs, 69 R); 1B Albert Pujols (.276/.326/.483, 20 doubles, 20 HR, 65 RBIs, 59 R); LF Josh Hamilton (.293/.372/.440, 18 XBH, 27 RBIs); RHP Jered Weaver (10-6, 3.43 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)
Season series vs. O’s (2013): 2-5, 27 runs scored, 30 runs allowed
The Orioles’ schedule right out of the All-Star break certainly isn’t the envy of other teams.
Baltimore goes from visiting the major league-leading Athletics to traveling south to take on the hottest team in baseball and owners of the majors’ second-best record, the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels have put together quite a run to pull within 1 1/2 games of the A’s in the American League West, improving to 59-38 to be one of just two big league clubs with a winning percentage of at least .600.
Los Angeles has won seven of eight and 12 of 14, but it goes back further than that. The Angels are 21-5 since June 20 - with four walk-off wins in that time, two of which have come in their last last three games - and 28-10 since June 6.
The Angels haven’t lost consecutive games since June 15-16 and if that isn’t enough, they have the majors’ best home record at 34-16.
So what makes them so good? Bats. Big ones.
Los Angeles leads the majors with 489 runs. They rank second in the AL with a .758 OPS and a .268 average, and fourth with 104 homers.
Seven Angels starters have an OPS of at least .72,9 with four above .800.
Center fielder Mike Trout continues to perform at an MVP level, leading the AL with a 1.012 OPS while ranking second with 74 RBIs and 69 runs. He also has 29 doubles, 23 homers and 10 steals.
Adding first baseman Albert Pujols and left fielder Josh Hamilton makes everyone around them more dangerous. Pujols has 20 doubles, 20 homers and 65 RBIs. Hamilton has 18 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs in just 49 games.
Right fielder Kole Calhoun has been a key contributor since early June, batting .346 with a 1.002 OPS, eight doubles, eight homers and 20 RBIs in his last 34 games. His .860 OPS overall this year ranks second on the club. He also has career-highs of 11 homers and 15 doubles in just 62 games.
Pitching-wise, the Angels haven’t been so dominant. They haven’t been bad, boasting a solid 3.78 team ERA, which ranks sixth in the AL. Their 3.80 starters’ ERA is fourth in the AL.
The Orioles won’t have to face Los Angeles’ best starter this season, right-hander Garrett Richards (11-2, 2.47 ERA).
They will have to go through right-hander Jered Weaver, however. Weaver is 10-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 21 starts. He’ll face Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman on Wednesday in the best pitching match-up of the series.
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker takes on O’s right-hander Bud Norris in tonight’s series opener while left-hander Hector Santiago starts opposite Miguel Gonzalez in the middle contest. Shoemaker is 7-2 with a 4.38 ERA in 15 games (nine starts). Santiago is 2-7 with a 4.32 ERA in 16 games (12 starts).
The Angels have already made some moves to help fix their bullpen’s late-inning woes. Los Angeles has a 3.73 relief ERA and 13 blown saves this season. But they’ve acquired Padres closer Huston Street (24 saves, 1.06 ERA) and former Pirates closer Jason Grilli (1.08 ERA with Angels) to shore things up.
So perhaps the Angels’ greatest weakness could turn into a strength, which isn’t good news for opponents such as the Orioles.
But the Angels remain middle-of-the-pack pitching-wise while their offense has been exceptional. If you like back-and-forth, high-scoring affairs, you could be in store for a few as the O’s and Halos match big bats in Anaheim.