Blue Jays-Angels Preview
The right fielder will try to help keep the Angels hot when they open a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
Los Angeles (59-57) is 7 1/2 games back of division-leading Texas, but the club feels it's not out of it after going 5-1 in six games following a three-game sweep by league-worst Baltimore.
"It's not over for us," right fielder Torii Hunter said. "The fat lady, she hasn't sang yet."
Abreu's move to the leadoff spot following the Orioles series has sparked the club. Known for his patience at the plate, he is hitting .375 with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs since the switch.
Abreu hit a walkoff homer in a 2-1, 10-inning victory over Kansas City on Wednesday as the Angels swept the three-game series.
"Bobby really works the pitcher," Hunter said of Abreu, who sees 4.3 pitches per at-bat, among the most in the majors. "He gives you a chance to see what the pitcher is doing. He's hitting a lot better in the leadoff spot."
While Abreu has been a catalyst atop the lineup, a rejuvenated Scott Kazmir (8-9, 6.57 ERA) is also looking to boost Los Angeles' playoff hopes.
The left-hander returned from his latest injury with a strong performance Saturday, allowing one unearned run and three hits in five innings of a 10-1 win at Detroit.
He posted a 13.73 ERA during a four-start losing streak before arm fatigue landed him on the disabled list July 10 - his second trip to the DL this year.
"We're talking about a guy that, if he pitches to his potential, will be a Cy Young candidate," manager Mike Scioscia said. "This season hasn't gone as scripted, but he has never given up, and you saw that again (Saturday)."
Kazmir is 2-0 with a 4.94 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays (60-54).
The Angels have won five of six season meetings with Toronto, taking two of three at home from May 24-26.
The Blue Jays are coming off a stirring 6-5 win over Boston on Thursday, as Fred Lewis capped a four-run ninth-inning rally with a walkoff sacrifice fly. That allowed Toronto to avoid a three-game sweep.
The Blue Jays won't have Brandon Morrow as they try to build on the victory, as he is being skipped in the rotation to give him extra rest after his last outing.
Morrow had career highs of 17 strikeouts and 137 pitches Sunday, when he came within one out of a no-hitter in a 1-0 win over Tampa Bay.
The Blue Jays will instead turn to Marc Rzepczynski (0-1, 7.15), who will be recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Rzepczynski hasn't appeared for Toronto since struggling with his mechanics in a 5-2 loss at Kansas City on July 21. He allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings.
The left-hander, 2-5 with a 4.27 ERA in 13 starts over two seasons, hasn't won since last facing the Angels on Aug. 21. He yielded one run and three hits with six strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 home victory.