The Los Angeles Angels are coming off their first series win on the road this season and have a good chance to continue that success in Kansas City.
The Angels try to maintain their recent dominance over the Royals when the teams open a four-game series on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
After getting outscored 43-9 in seven straight road losses, Los Angeles (14-11) finally bounced back to win the final two games of its weekend series with the Chicago White Sox, including a 5-2 victory on Sunday.
Maicer Izturis and Vladimir Guerrero hit back-to-back homers in the fourth inning and Izturis drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the fifth before leaving with tightness in his right hamstring. Gary Matthews Jr. extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 17-for-38 (.447) during that span, but has struggled during his career against the Royals—hitting just .188 in 30 games.
“That was a very important game for us,” Izturis told the Angels’ official Web site. “We made the plays we needed and we’re going to Kansas City feeling good.”
Los Angeles has won eight of its last 10 games heading into Kansas City, where it has won 13 of its last 15 contests.
The Angels have also won 21 of the last 26 overall matchups with the Royals (8-17) and took seven of 10 meetings in 2006, including the last four.
Figgins, who batted .267 last season, broke two fingers in his right hand late in spring training.
“He’s a spark plug for our team the last couple of years,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re happy to get him in the lineup.”
John Lackey (3-2, 2.35 ERA) will take the ball on Monday for the Angels. The right-hander has held all five of his opponents to three or fewer runs after a 9-1 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
Lackey allowed just one run and seven hits over six innings while striking out a season-high seven. He improved to 3-0 at home with a 1.00 ERA, but has struggled a bit on the road, losing both starts and posting a 4.26 ERA.
Lackey is 1-2 with a 4.13 ERA in five career starts versus the Royals.
He’ll be opposed by Odalis Perez (2-2, 7.54), who is trying to win his third straight start. The left-hander is coming off back-to-back victories over Minnesota, including a 4-3 win on Wednesday when he allowed three runs over six innings.
Perez is 1-3 with a 3.94 ERA in five career starts against the Angels. He will try to help the Royals bounce back from dropping two of three to the Seattle Mariners, including a 5-1 defeat on Sunday.
The Royals were hurt by a strange sequence with the game tied at 1 in the seventh inning. Catcher John Buck had a foul tip on a 3-2 pitch to Willie Bloomquist get stuck behind his chest protector, but it wasn’t ruled a third strike because the ball didn’t hit his glove or hand first. The inning continued and Kansas City gave up three runs and never recovered.
“But the fact of the matter is, we did not give ourselves a whole lot opportunities to win this game,” manager Buddy Bell told the Royals’ official Web site.
Reggie Sanders had an RBI single for Kansas City, which was held to one or no runs for the seventh time this season. The Royals finished 2-3 on their road trip and are opening a season-long 10-game homestand.