With a chance to grab first place for the first time since April, the Los Angeles Angels look to increase their season-high winning streak to eight games when they host the disappointing Cleveland Indians in the middle of a three-game series on Tuesday.
The Angels (47-45) have outscored opponents 43-18 during the seven-game win streak and are 12-1 this month with a .322 batting average, 22 home runs and 86 runs.
They’ll match their longest winning streak from all of last season with a victory Tuesday.
The hot streak has moved them within a half-game of the Oakland Athletics for the AL West lead. Los Angeles, the two-time reigning division champion, was seven games behind the A’s and in fourth place entering July. The team has not been in first place since April 29 when it was 12-12 and tied with the Texas Rangers.
Oakland plays at Baltimore on Tuesday.
It was Anderson’s first homer in 19 games and eighth of the season.
“Our situational hitting’s much better, and we certainly got our share of two-out hits tonight with guys in scoring position,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I liked our approach. We were patient enough against a good pitcher, worked some deep counts and attacked them the way we had to.”
Vladimir Guerrero is staking his claim to the AL MVP award, going 22-for-50 (.440) with four homers and 14 RBIs in 13 games this month.
The seven-time All-Star is a catalyst for the Angels, hitting .353 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs in 46 wins, while batting .268 with five homers and 23 RBIs in 44 losses.
Guerrero and the Angels have been able to support a pitching staff that has been dominant in July.
The starting rotation is 11-0 with a 1.92 ERA and three complete games in the last 13 contests. Only one starter failed to reach the sixth inning in that stretch—rookie Dustin Moseley, who won his first major league game on Monday.
The Angels are expected to send another rookie to the mound Tuesday, as Joe Saunders is scheduled to make his 2006 debut after being called up from Triple-A Salt Lake. He replaces Kelvim Escobar, who is still recovering from elbow pain suffered in his last outing on July 6.
The promising 25-year-old left-hander did not get a decision while posting a 7.71 ERA in 9 1-3 innings over two starts for the Angels last season.
The Indians (41-51) counter with Cliff Lee (9-6, 4.68), the team leader in wins who also tops the club in walks (34) and home runs allowed (17).
Despite those totals, the left-hander has found consistency with a 6-1 record and 3.76 ERA in his last eight starts, reaching at least the sixth inning in all of them.
Lee won at Minnesota on Thursday, throwing four hitless frames before yielding three runs—two earned—and five hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-4 win.
Lee, who is 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA in four starts against the Angels, hopes he can help Cleveland notch its first win in five games since the All-Star break.
The Indians are batting .226 during the four-game slide, getting outscored 24-11.
A preseason favorite to win the AL Central, Cleveland is in fourth place, 21 games behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers.
The Indians lost their first four games after the All-Star game last season, falling 15 games back in the division race, before going 46-24 to come within 1 1/2 games of the division-winning Chicago White Sox.