(AP) — Paced by the hot-hitting Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Angels are in the midst of their most successful stretch of the season.
The visiting Angels look to extend their season-high winning streak to seven games Saturday against the struggling Kansas City Royals.
Trout recorded his fourth straight multi-hit game and Jason Vargas pitched 7 1-2 strong innings in a 5-2 win at Kansas City on Friday. After underachieving out of the gate for the second straight season, the high-priced Angels (21-27) have averaged 5.5 runs while winning 10 of 15.
“You don’t want to bank on extended streaks, but you do want to get on a roll,” said Trout, 10 for 17 in the last four games.
Trout has batted .372 with eight homers and 23 RBIs in his last 23 contests. He’s hit .366 in 11 career games against the Royals (21-24), who have dropped seven of eight since winning two of three at Los Angeles from May 13-15.
“I don’t feel like we’re pressing,” Kansas City slugger Billy Butler said. “I just don’t feel like we’re catching breaks here-and-there.”
Trout was one of four Angels to homer off Kansas City’s Jeremy Guthrie (5-2, 3.49 ERA) in a 6-2 win May 14. Guthrie yielded five runs in seven innings before giving up six over five innings of a 6-5 loss at Houston on Monday.
The right-hander allowed 13 runs while going 5-0 in his first seven starts of 2013, and was 10-0 with a 2.21 ERA over 18 before the loss to Los Angeles.
“(Against the Angels), I was a lot more frustrated, a little bit out of whack,” he told the Royals’ official website. “(On Monday) I felt pretty decent. I wasn’t able to keep us in it.”
Josh Hamilton homered off Guthrie last week and is batting .320 with three home runs and two doubles against him.
Kansas City has lost 14 of 18, but hopes to get back on track against ex-Royal Billy Buckner. With Tommy Hanson on the restricted list, Buckner makes his Angels debut and first major league appearance since 2010 with Arizona.
The right-hander was recalled May 16 from Triple-A Salt Lake City, where he went 4-3 with a 4.56 ERA in eight starts. He will be the 21st pitcher used by Los Angeles this year – eight shy of the club record for a season.
“He’ll go as long and as hard as he can,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think he’ll be fine.”
Buckner is 5-11 with a 6.63 ERA in 21 career starts, including 1-2 with a 6.49 ERA in five as a rookie for Kansas City in 2007.
With a home run Friday on the eve of his 39th birthday, Kansas City’s Miguel Tejada is 10 for 31 with two homers and seven RBIs in 14 games this season.
Butler is 6 for 29 (.207) with one RBI in eight games since he went 8 for 13 with a homer and nine RBIs in the road set against the Angels.