MLB

Fri, Apr 1, 2011 - 8:10 PM ET
 

Angels-Royals Preview

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Dan Haren didn't get much help after joining the Los Angeles Angels last summer. That appears likely to change in 2011, and taking the mound against the Kansas City Royals may be the ideal way to start.

Haren looks to get his first full season with the Angels off to an impressive start by continuing his success against the Royals on Friday night.

Haren went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA over 14 starts with Los Angeles after being acquired in a five-player trade with Arizona in July.

The right-hander's success, however, may have been muted with the offense providing him more than three runs once while being held to one or fewer in seven games.

Despite that lack of support, Haren concluded the season by winning four consecutive decisions behind a 1.70 ERA over eight starts, cementing his status behind Jered Weaver as the Angels' No. 2 starter.

"We have a good staff and I am excited to get it going," Haren told the team's official website.

Haren may be in line for improved support in 2011 after watching Los Angeles connect for 12 hits with half going for extra bases, including two homers, to back Weaver in a 4-2 win at Kansas City to begin this season-opening four-game series Thursday.

Eight Angels managed at least one hit with four getting two, including right fielder Torii Hunter, who hit a long solo homer.

"I think this is like my 13th opening day," Hunter said. "Thirteen of them and I'm still kind of nervous and anxious to see what happens. But it's cool to come away with a win."

Hunter is 13 for 29 with five homers, two doubles and 13 RBIs over the past seven meetings with Kansas City.

Haren has enjoyed his own success versus the Royals, going 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA in seven starts. He's won all three decisions in four visits to Kauffman Stadium.

The Angels have won 20 of 25 against Kansas City, including 12 of 15 on the road while hitting 19 homers.

The Royals will try to end a five-game overall slide to Los Angeles by giving the ball to Jeff Francis, who was signed as a free agent after spending seven years with Colorado.

The left-hander has been plagued by shoulder trouble for three seasons after winning a career-high 17 games in 2007. He's 8-16 with a 5.01 ERA in 44 games since while surgery forced him to miss the 2009 season.

Francis has thrived versus AL opponents, going 6-1 with a 3.58 ERA over his last 10 starts. He's 0-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts against the Angels.

While Francis is trying to put his shoulder injuries behind him, the Royals are trying to prove they're impressive production during spring training wasn't a fluke after being limited to seven hits Thursday while committing three errors.

Kansas City hit .308 while leading the Cactus League with a 20-10-1 record.

"It's just one day," left fielder Alex Gordon said. "We're not going to look too much into it."

Gordon would like to erase the memory of his 0-for-5, three-strikeout performance from Thursday. He showed incredible promise by batting .343 with six homers and 23 RBIs during spring training after compiling a .215 batting average in 74 games last season.

Gordon has struck out three times while going hitless in six at-bats against Haren.

Tagged: Angels, Royals, Torii Hunter, Dan Haren, Jeff Francis, Alex Gordon

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