Indians look to end Angels series with 7th straight win (Jul 27, 2017)

BY AP • July 27, 2017

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians have been waiting for a streak like this all season. Thursday afternoon they will take a six-game winning streak, their longest of the season, into the final game of their three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels.

The six-game winning streak followed a 1-5 road trip to Oakland and San Francisco coming out of the All-Star break. But then the Indians returned home, seemingly flipped the switch, and started piling up victories.

On Thursday, they have a chance to sweep their seven-game homestand against Toronto, Cincinnati and the Angels. During their six-game winning streak, the Indians have outscored their opponents 50-18.

"It's a contagious lineup right now. We're keeping the line moving, we're getting good at bats from everyone, and the pitching is on point. We're hitting on all cylinders," said Austin Jackson, who in the Indians' 10-4 win Wednesday night had two of Cleveland's 17 hits to raise his average to .327.

The AL Central-leading Indians are a season-high nine games over .500 at 54-45. They need to keep on winning because second place Kansas City, only 1 1/2 games behind the Indians, has won eight games in a row.

The Angels, meanwhile, have lost two in a row in Cleveland after winning three of their last four games against Boston and Washington. With a record of 49-53, the Angels are a distant fourth in the AL West, and there are five teams ahead of them in the race for the second wild-card spot.

"We've got a lot of challenges ahead of us to get better," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "And we know what those challenges are. We've got to swing the bats better, hold our bullpen together, and our starting rotation has been patchwork from the beginning of the season."

Playing Cleveland doesn't help matters. The Angels have lost seven in a row to the Indians dating back to June 12 of last season. They also have lost 11 of their last 12 games against the Indians, including each of their last nine games at Progressive Field.

"We know who we are and that we've got to focus on the process," Scioscia said. "We just need to stay together, be more consistent with the basics and start playing more consistent baseball."

One player who is doing more than his share is first baseman Luis Valbuena. Valbuena, who played for Cleveland from 2009 to 2011, has hit home runs in three consecutive games, and in the first two games in Cleveland, he is 4-for-8 with a double, two home runs and four RBIs. Nine of his last 12 hits have been for extra bases.

The Angels' starter Thursday will be J.C. Romero (9-8, 4.38). In four July starts, Romero is 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA. He has made four career appearances against the Indians, all of them in relief. He has no record and a 5.06 ERA.

Cleveland's starter will be Trevor Bauer (8-8, 5.58), who has struggled in recent starts. In three July starts, Bauer is 1-2 with an 8.44 ERA. In four career starts against the Angels, Bauer is 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA.

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