It’s been quite a while since C.J. Wilson lost to an NL team. It’s been nearly as many starts since Aaron Harang defeated an AL squad.
The veterans will square off Friday night in Atlanta with Wilson’s Los Angeles Angels trying to continue their dominance over the NL as they open a three-game series with the Braves.
Since the start of 2007, the Angels are an MLB-best 90-46 against the NL. Wilson is 6-0 with a 3.33 ERA in his last 11 regular-season starts against the NL dating to June 21, 2011.
He also won his last start in impressive fashion, surrendering a run and three hits in 7 1-3 innings of Sunday’s 4-2 home victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Road outings have been more of a struggle as the left-hander has lost three straight away starts with a 7.16 ERA and 10 walks in 16 1-3 innings.
Wilson (7-5, 3.32 ERA) has never faced Atlanta, but he’s held B.J. Upton to 3 for 20 with nine strikeouts.
While it’s the Braves the Angels will be playing, it’s Oakland they’ll be indirectly chasing. Los Angeles (36-29) won two of three in a home series with the Athletics to begin the week, missing out on a sweep with Wednesday’s 7-1 loss.
The defeat ended a five-game winning streak, but it didn’t kill the energy manager Mike Scioscia has developed as the AL West begins to take form. His team is in the mix after falling short of expectations the last four years, despite the addition of attractive pieces.
"You can talk about putting all the ingredients together and coming out here and playing hard and playing with confidence but winning ballgames is that most important ingredient," Scioscia told the team’s official website. "That’s what really builds the confidence of the club and moves you forward."
Albert Pujols went 2 for 4 in the finale against Oakland to snap a span of 15 games without a multihit effort, on which he hit .155.
The slugger is quite familiar with Harang (4-5, 3.33), having faced him more than anyone other than Roy Oswalt. Pujols is 27 for 79 (.342) with five home runs against his old NL Central foe.
Harang is 0-3 with a 7.07 ERA in seven starts against the AL since July 27 when he was with Seattle. He faced the Angels four times last season and lost each, running his record against them to 0-5 with a 7.59 ERA in seven starts. The Angels are the only MLB team he’s faced at least five times and remains winless against.
He’s similarly win-starved in his last five 2014 starts, though those results aren’t quite as much his fault with an 0-2 record and 3.90 ERA after Sunday’s 6-5 loss in Arizona. The right-hander allowed three runs and four hits in six innings but walked six. Harang has issued 10 bases on balls in his last two starts, but that hasn’t made his manager forget about his elite start to the season.
"You’ve got to run him back out there," Fredi Gonzalez told the team’s official website.
The Braves (34-31) head home in need of some strong pitching having allowed 28 runs in the final three of a four-game split in Colorado. Thursday’s 10-3 loss also lacked offense as Atlanta managed four hits.
Evan Gattis was hit by a pitch in his only plate appearance after he had hit safely in his previous 12 games with a .383 average.
The Braves have been held to six runs in the last four meetings with Los Angeles.