American League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, May 24th (All times Eastern)
LA Angels of Anaheim (20-27) at Kansas City Royals (21-23), 8:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: LA Angels - Jason Vargas (3-3, 3.55) Kansas City - Luis Mendoza (1-2, 5.50)
(Sports Network) - This is probably the sort of streak that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim figured would be a regular thing throughout the season.
While that hasn't been the case, the Angels are slowly digging themselves out of an early-season hole and shoot for a sixth straight victory on Friday night in the second contest of a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals.
Los Angeles made a big splash this past offseason when it added Josh Hamilton's bat to a lineup that already featured former MVP Albert Pujols and reigning AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout. However, the Angels sat just 15-27 on the season before putting together their longest winning streak of the season.
The five straight wins, a span in which the Angels have scored 42 runs, still has the club 10 games out of first place in the AL West.
But good things continued to happen in Thursday's opener. Joe Blanton allowed just two runs over 6 1/3 innings of a 5-4 victory to win his first game of the season (1-7) and the Angels hit four home runs off of former teammate Ervin Santana.
Mark Trumbo had a big two-run homer in the eighth inning, while Trout, Pujols and Chris Iannetta all had solo shots.
Santana was denied career win No. 100 by the team that traded him away during the offseason. Santana spent his first eight seasons with the Angels, but the long ball spoiled an otherwise solid start as four of the eight hits he gave up were home runs. He did finish with eight strikeouts.
Kansas City nearly rallied and the Angels' Ernesto Frieri allowed run-scoring singles to Salvador Perez and George Kottaras in the ninth inning to make it a one-run game.
Chris Getz worked a walk to put the tying run on second base, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia took out his closer in favor of Robert Coello, who induced Alcides Escobar into a game-ending flyout to pick up his first career save.
"We weren't really able to capitalize in certain situations," Getz said. "We hit a lot of balls hard. It just happened to go right at guys."
The Royals have lost six of seven games since taking two of three in Anaheim earlier this month. Jason Vargas won the lone game of that set for the Angels and will take the hill tonight.
Vargas has won two straight starts and each of his last three decisions, having not lost since April 28. The left-hander beat the Royals on May 14 after giving up two runs over seven innings of work.
The left-hander followed up that outing by hurling seven scoreless innings versus the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, scattering four hits and three walks.
"I was able to get ahead with the fastball early and stay ahead," said Vargas. "My change-up command is huge and I was able to catch them off guard. They hit the ball hard, but right at people today.
The 30-year-old is 3-3 on the season with a 3.55 earned run average through nine starts and holds a lifetime record of 5-1 versus the Royals with a 3.38 ERA in six meetings.
The Royals counter with Luis Mendoza, who won his first game of the season on May 13 by beating the Angels. The righty was backed with plenty of support in the 11-4 to win the opener of the set and himself allowed three runs on six hits over six innings. Mendoza also struck out six without a walk.
The 29-year-old did not issue a walk last time out either, a no-decision at Oakland on Sunday. Mendoza was charged with three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits over six innings, leaving him 1-2 on the season with a 5.50 ERA in seven games (6 starts).
Mendoza is 1-1 with an 8.04 ERA in six previous meetings with the Angels, three of those starts.
05/24 10:21:07 ET