The two-time defending AL West champion Los Angeles Angels are in last place in their division. Facing a team they have recently dominated may help them back on the winning track.
Los Angeles looks to avoid tying a season-high with its fifth straight home loss when it meets the Kansas City Royals in the start of four-game series at Angel Stadium on Monday.
Los Angeles (27-35), which was outscored 22-9 while being swept in a weekend series by division-rival Seattle, has not lost five straight at home since April 28-May 2.
“We need to right our ship and get our game out on the field,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after a 6-2 loss to the Mariners on Sunday in the series finale. “Until we do that it doesn’t matter what team comes into town.”
The Angels have won six straight over Kansas City (16-45), and are 14-2 against them since the start of the 2004 season.
After winning the AL West title by seven games last season, Los Angeles trails first-place Texas by 6 1/2 games. The Angels have not been seven games back since the 2003 season.
One player who can help the Angels get better in a hurry is right fielder Vladimir Guerrero. He is hitting only .117 (2-for-17) with five strikeouts in his last four games, but is batting .333 (19-for-57) with two homers and 15 RBIs in 16 career games against the Royals.
Ervin Santana (5-3, 3.07 ERA), coming off his best start of the season, takes the mound for the Angels in the series opener. The left-hander, making his first career start against Kansas City, allowed just one run and two hits while striking out seven through seven innings of a 12-2 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
“I had everything going,” said Santana, who has allowed seven runs over 21 innings in his last three starts. He also is 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA and has allowed just one home run over 39 1-3 innings in six home starts.
The Royals continue to have the worst record in the majors after an 8-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday in which they gave up six homers.
“That’s just the way it’s been going all season,” said starter Scott Elarton, who gave up three homers in 4 2-3 innings.
One day after turning 24, rookie Bobby Keppel (0-1, 2.11) again looks for his first career win when he starts for Kansas City.
Keppel has been solid in his first starts, allowing just three runs in 14 2-3 innings, but Kansas City has scored only two runs in those games.
On Wednesday, the right-hander allowed one run and seven hits over eight innings against Texas, but was pulled with one on and no outs in the ninth, and did not factor in a 4-2 loss.
“This is my 14th day up here,” Keppel said after the game. “I’m going to trust my manager’s decision. I had visions of finishing that game, trust me. That’s how I saw it ending.”
Shortstop and 2003 AL rookie of the year Angel Berroa is batting .375 (9-for-24) during a six-game hitting streak, but just .182 (16-for-88) with 18 strikeouts in 25 career games against the Angels.