The Los Angeles Angels are doing their best to stay in contention in the AL West.
The surging Angels seek to win their seventh straight game on Saturday night when they continue a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium.
Los Angeles (76-65) used an outstanding effort from rookie Joe Saunders to win its sixth game in a row, 4-1 in Friday’s series opener. Saunders allowed one run and five hits over 7 2-3 innings for his fifth victory of the season.
The Angels remained 5 1/2 games behind first-place Oakland in the AL West race. Los Angeles, which captured the division title each of the last two seasons, has seven meetings left with the Athletics.
Before Los Angeles can worry about facing Oakland, though, it must focus on beating Toronto (73-68). The Angels improved to 3-5 against the Blue Jays on the season with Friday’s win.
“Our focus isn’t on anything except winning every night,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ve got a challenge in front of us, and the only way to get there is to pour everything you have into every game. You have to look at the way you’re going to get to a goal, not the goal itself. And it’s got to continue in these last 20-something games.”
Garret Anderson went 2-for-4 with a solo homer Friday for the Angels. Anderson was hitless in 11 at-bats against Toronto before breaking out.
The 13-year veteran right fielder is batting just .250 against left-handers this year and is 0-for-6 in his career against Toronto’s Gustavo Chacin (7-3, 5.34 ERA), who will start on Saturday.
Los Angeles is a season-high 11 games over .500 after being a season-worst 11 games under .500 on May 22. The 22-game turnaround is the biggest within one season in franchise history.
The Angels send Kelvim Escobar (10-12, 3.61) to the mound for Saturday’s contest. Escobar has pitched eight innings in each of his last three starts. The right-hander ended a personal two-game losing streak when he allowed an unearned run and two hits in a 2-1 victory at Detroit on Sunday.
“When I have fastball command, it makes it easy for me because I can use my secondary pitches,” he said. “My secondary pitches are as good as anyone’s in the league.”
Escobar is 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA in two starts this year against the Blue Jays, for whom he pitched his first seven years in the majors.
Toronto left fielder Frank Catalonotto is hitless in 12 career at-bats against Escobar.
Blue Jays third baseman Troy Glaus is still looking for his first hit at Angel Stadium against the team with whom he spent his first seven seasons. Glaus went 0-for-4 on Friday and is hitless in six at-bats in Anaheim over three games this year.
Chacin makes his fourth start for Toronto since returning from the disabled list due to a sprained ligament in his pitching elbow. Chacin is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA over his last three outings.
The left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three career starts against the Angels.