The Los Angeles Angels have finally started to gain ground in the AL West with nine victories in their last 11 games.
The Angels will try to continue the charge Wednesday night in Chicago when they go for a three-game sweep of the White Sox.
Los Angeles (47-35), winner of seven straight over Chicago (39-46), swept Tuesday’s doubleheader at U.S. Cellular Field while Oakland lost its second straight. The 1 1/2-game swing in a matter of hours got the Angels within 3 1/2 of the division-leading Athletics.
The Angels won 8-4 in the first game behind home runs from Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, then finished the job with a 7-5 victory in Game 2.
Hamilton had gone 23 games without leaving the yard. Trout hit safely in both contests and has a nine-game hitting streak as part of a 36-game stretch in which he’s hit safely in 33 with a .379 average and 34 RBIs.
"It’s good to see those guys drive the ball," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB’s official website.
The Angels, averaging six runs over their last 13 games, reached the halfway point after the first game, and their momentary 46-35 record was their best 81-game mark since posting the same record in 2009, the last year they made the playoffs.
The next task is recalibrating Tyler Skaggs, who is returning from the disabled list having lost his last three starts before being shelved with a strained right hamstring. Skaggs (4-4, 4.34 ERA) last pitched June 5 in an 8-5 loss in Houston, allowing four runs and seven hits over five innings.
"Tyler’s got just a great arm," Scioscia said. "I think we’ve mixed and matched. A lot of the guys who have filled in are pitching well, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago. But Tyler’s a guy that we’re going to give the ball to to see if he can’t do some of the things he showed he can do when he was in the rotation the first time."
He’s never faced the White Sox or anyone in their lineup, though he’s certainly familiar with Jose Abreu.
Abreu homered in Game 1 for the White Sox, making him the first player in big league history with 26 home runs in his first 70 games. He also hit safely in Game 2 to extend his hitting streak to 16, matching Ross Gload’s club record for a rookie set in 2004.
Aside from Abreu, the White Sox offense has been slight with everyone else on the team combining for a .220 average over a 4-9 span during which Abreu’s 14 RBIs account for 29.8 percent of Chicago’s total.
Conor Gillaspie went 2 for 3 in the second game after going hitless in 14 at-bats over his previous four, while Dayan Viciedo homered for the third time in five contests.
The White Sox send John Danks to the mound with hopes of limiting base runners after the staff issued 13 walks in the doubleheader. They’ve handed out at least six in three of their last four games.
"You get yourself in trouble and put yourself in bad spots. It happened in both games," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Especially with this lineup. You don’t want to put anybody on and give them extra chances."
Danks (7-6, 4.26) gave up five hits and two runs on two homers in six innings while earning the victory in Friday’s 5-4 win in Toronto.
He’s been strong at home this season with a 4-2 record and 2.77 ERA.
The left-hander is 3-4 with a 3.20 ERA in 10 starts against the Angels. Hamilton is 7 for 16 with a home run against him, but he’s never faced Pujols or Trout.