Royals' Guthrie could use a strong outing against the Angels
The Los Angeles Angels may be in the wrong place and facing the wrong opponent to avoid their longest road skid in 46 years, though they could be facing the right pitcher.
They have dropped nine straight on the road and seven in a row overall to the AL-best Kansas City Royals, who will send the woeful Jeremy Guthrie to the mound in Thursday night's opener of a four-game set.
Los Angeles (59-54) totaled four runs and batted .196 in a three-game sweep by the Chicago White Sox following Wednesday's 3-2, 13-inning defeat. The Angels are enduring their longest road slide in 22 years after going 1 for 32 with runners in scoring position in the series, including 0 for 15 in the finale.
"We lost that game long before the 13th inning," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had a lot of opportunities."
A loss Thursday would mark the franchise's fourth double-digit road skid and first since a club-record 14-game stretch April 29-June 8, 1969.
Los Angeles returns to Kansas City for the first time since losing 8-3 in Game 3 of the division series as the Royals completed a sweep. They then swept three games in Anaheim from April 10-12 to run their overall win streak in this series to seven.
Kansas City (68-45) has the AL's best home record at 39-19, though its seven-game win streak there ended with Wednesday's 7-4 loss to Detroit. Manager Ned Yost took the blame for allowing Edinson Volquez to begin the eighth inning with a two-run lead only to see the starter fail to retire the four hitters he faced.
The Royals bullpen has a league-best 2.29 ERA.
"That's my fault, too," Yost said. "I've got a pretty hard fast rule that I don't let my starter get beat in the eighth inning and I did it there."
Yost likely won't give such leeway to Guthrie (8-7, 5.84 ERA), who has the league's worst ERA and is allowing batters to hit .320 for baseball's worst mark. The right-hander has an 8.50 ERA in his last three outings, getting credit for Saturday's 7-6 win over the White Sox despite surrendering six runs over 5 2/3 innings.
Guthrie gave up four runs in seven innings to earn a 6-4 win over the Angels on April 11 after going 0-3 with a 4.75 ERA in his previous five starts against them.
Mike Trout is 6 for 16 with a homer versus Guthrie and Kole Calhoun 4 for 7 with two homers. Albert Pujols is 3 for 17 in the matchup.
Angels starter Garrett Richards (11-9, 3.51) has a 4.84 road ERA compared to a 2.53 at home. He has a 4.19 ERA in eight appearances against the Royals, including two starts.
Alex Rios is 5 for 21 versus the right-hander and Kendrys Morales 2 for 13.
The Royals bullpen could get stronger since Wade Davis may be available after missing the past six games with back stiffness. Davis has never allowed a homer in 65 home games as a reliever with Kansas City.
Drew Butera will get another start at catcher since Salvador Perez is expected to miss a second straight game with a sore left wrist.