The Los Angeles Angels might want to stick with their pregame routine.
The hot-starting Angels will look to send the reeling Cleveland Indians to a sixth straight loss Saturday night at Progressive Field.
The Angels (52-62) came into Cleveland having scored in the first inning of five straight games, though they’d lost their previous four. That skid ended Friday, when they rode a five-run first to a 5-2 victory over the Indians.
Los Angeles has prospered early despite a very fluid top of the order. On Tuesday, Kole Calhoun took over the leadoff spot and he and Mike Trout hit back-to-back home runs to begin the night. On Wednesday, Calhoun led off with a walk and Trout homered once again. On Friday, J.B. Shuck led off and the Angels’ first four hitters all reached before Josh Hamilton’s three-run home run.
Trout, who walked twice Friday, has reached base in 39 straight games – the second-longest streak in franchise history. He has an on-base percentage of .492 during that span.
Los Angeles’ problem is that it can’t seem to tack on later in the game. Beginning August 3, the Angels have scored 23 runs in the first five innings but just two runs from the sixth on.
The Indians, losers of five straight, have been decimated by the big inning. Prior to Friday’s first, they gave up at least four runs in three different frames en route to being swept in four games by Detroit.
The Indians (62-54) could use a lengthy outing from Ubaldo Jimenez (8-6, 4.18) after their bullpen had to go six-plus innings in three straight contests, but pitching deep into games hasn’t been his strong suit.
The right-hander, who had his start pushed back so he wouldn’t face the Tigers, has failed to make it through six in nine of his last 11 starts. That included a very inefficient start at Miami on Aug. 2, when he needed 107 pitches to make it through four innings. The Marlins tagged him for five runs – two earned – and nine hits in a 10-0 victory.
Three of those runs came in the first inning after Asdrubal Cabrera misplayed a double-play grounder that would have given Jimenez a scoreless frame.
“You hate to ever give anybody extra opportunities, and we did that,” manager Terry Francona told the team’s official website. “Saying that, throwing 100 pitches in four innings is too much.”
Jimenez only got a chance to throw 72 in his latest start against the Angels. He gave up eight runs and eight hits – including a pair of homers – in a 9-6 loss at Anaheim on Aug. 14 that dropped him to 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA versus Los Angeles.
C.J. Wilson (11-6, 3.49), on the other hand, is 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in four outings against Cleveland since 2010.
The left-hander won seven of eight starts from June 14 through July 25 while posting a 1.96 ERA, but his last two have been less impressive. After giving up a season-worst 11 hits and six runs over four innings July 30, he allowed four runs in 7 1-3 of Los Angeles’ 6-5 loss to Toronto on Sunday.
After hitting just one home run in their previous seven games, the Indians hit two on Friday night, including Michael Brantley’s first in a month.
Wilson, however, has yielded only two long balls over his last 11 outings – tying him for the fewest in the majors among pitchers to make at least eight starts since June 8.