The Los Angeles Angels are facing a large deficit in the AL West but still feel like they can win a fourth straight division title. The Baltimore Orioles are hoping a new manager can improve their optimism.
The Angels begin a three-game series at Camden Yards on Tuesday night when manager Buck Showalter makes his debut with the major league-worst Orioles.
Los Angeles (54-53) won two of three over division-leading Texas over the weekend but still trails the Rangers by eight games. The Angels had one win in eight contests prior to the series.
"This is the first time since I've been here that we've been in this kind of deficit," Jered Weaver said after striking out seven in Sunday's 4-1 win. "But we've got guys in this clubhouse that know how to take care of business and know what it takes to win an AL West championship."
If the Angels are going to overcome this deficit, they'll likely have to hit better. They batted .232 and averaged 3.7 runs on their 2-4 homestand.
"There are a lot of guys who are underperforming and it's something (batting coach) Mickey (Hatcher) has looked at closely to find some explanation," manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels' official website.
Torii Hunter is batting .220 with one homer and two RBIs since the All-Star break, but he went 3 for 4 on Sunday. He is hitting .379 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs in his last 15 games in Baltimore.
The Angels, who have lost 11 of 14 on the road, have won 10 of 13 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles (32-73) return home following a 1-6 trip that ended with Sunday's 5-4 loss to Kansas City. Baltimore finished 17-34 under interim manager Juan Samuel, who held that position since Dave Trembley was fired June 4.
"I wish we'd have ended with a victory here or a series win, but these guys played hard," said Samuel, who will take over a special assignment role instead of returning to coach third base.
Showalter, a two-time AL manager of the year, was hired Thursday and takes over a team that has scored the second-fewest runs in the AL (379) while posting one of the worst ERAs in the majors (5.18).
"All competitive people like the idea sometimes that people say it can't be done. ... I love the town, the tradition, the people, the feeling," said the 54-year-old Showalter, who owns an 882-833 career record. "It's a challenge, it's our challenge."
Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie (4-11, 4.23) looks for another solid start in the series opener. He is 1-1 with a 1.31 ERA in three outings since the All-Star break after giving up one run and six hits over seven innings of Wednesday's 5-0 loss at Toronto.
Guthrie is 1-2 with a 4.79 ERA in five starts against Los Angeles, which will counter with Trevor Bell (1-2, 6.46). Making his first start since Aug. 28, the right-hander was tagged for four runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings of a 6-4 loss at Texas on July 25.
Bell was sent to Triple-A Salt Lake following that start but was called up Friday when he threw one inning of scoreless relief in a 9-7 win over Texas.
This will be the first time Bell faces Baltimore.
Angels right fielder Bobby Abreu had Sunday off but will likely be back in the lineup against Guthrie. He is 5 for 22 with four homers off the right-hander.