Angels look to stay hot against Blue Jays
The Los Angeles Angels will try to keep charging closer to an American League wild-card spot when they host the Toronto Blue Jays in the third game of their four-game series Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
The Angels (41-35) won the first two games of the series and three straight overall to move within five games of the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card spot in the AL. The Mariners have lost a season-high five straight games, allowing Los Angeles to make up 3 1/2 games since Tuesday.
“We still have a long ways to go,” Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols told Fox Sports West following a 2-1 victory against the Blue Jays on Friday night.
Pujols went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in Friday’s win. He produced an RBI double in the first inning to give him 630 doubles for his career, moving him within two of David Ortiz for 10th on the all-time major-league list. He is four home runs shy of 630 for career, which would tie Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth on the career list.
Marcus Stroman (0-5, 7.71 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Blue Jays (34-41) on Saturday night in his first start since May 8.
In his last outing, Stroman gave up five runs and nine hits over five innings in a 5-0 loss to the Mariners in Toronto. His counterpart, Seattle left-hander James Paxton, became the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter in the game.
Stroman went on the disabled list a day later with fatigue in his throwing shoulder.
“It just got to the point where it was so mentally and physically frustrating,” Stroman told MLB.com at the time. “I just need to take a step back for a second, put it all together and come back and be myself out there.”
Pujols and Angels center fielder Mike Trout are each 5-for-10 in their careers against Stroman.
Stroman is 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA in four career appearances against Los Angeles, including three starts. The 5-foot-8 right-hander threw a complete game the last time he faced the Angels, allowing two runs (one earned) and seven hits in a 6-2 win at Angel Stadium on April 23, 2017, the start of a six-game winning streak for Stroman.
He finished with a career-high 13 wins last season, but hasn’t earned a victory since Sept. 24 against the New York Yankees.
Angels rookie right-hander Jaime Barria is scheduled to make his 10th career start and first against the Blue Jays.
Barria (5-3, 3.57) is tied for the AL lead in wins among rookies this season, and ranks third in ERA among rookies with at least 40 innings pitched.
The Angels have struggled to close out games this season, but the bullpen threw two perfect innings to complete the win on Friday, and their relievers have allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings in the series.
“There’s no doubt, that as that back end of our bullpen grows, that’s going to really help our club,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters after the win on Friday.