Escobar looks to continue his solid season when he matches up against the struggling Arroyo in the opener of a three-game interleague series in Cincinnati on Tuesday.
Escobar (7-3, 2.76 ERA) is among the AL leaders in wins and ERA, and has won three of his last four starts to help the Angels (40-24) move atop the AL West while compiling the second-best record in baseball.
He was 11-14 with a 3.61 ERA in 30 starts in 2006, and hasn’t posted a winning record as a starter since 2003, when he pitched for Toronto. But the right-hander has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in eight of his 11 starts en route to the best ERA of his 11-year career.
Escobar threw a three-hitter to beat Minnesota 5-1 on Tuesday—his second complete game in a month.
“I’m the same Kelvim that you guys have seen the last few years. I’m just having better results,” Escobar said.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the way I am right now. My arm feels great, it feels strong, and I’m working day in and day out to stay healthy. All I do is prepare myself physically to put myself in a good position to help this team make the playoffs.”
Escobar threw a four-hit shutout in his only career start against the Reds on June 8, 2003.
Ken Griffey Jr. is 1-for-11 lifetime against Escobar, but has homered in each of his last three starts to reach 578 for his career and move within five of Mark McGwire for seventh place all-time.
Griffey looks to provide some support for Arroyo (2-7, 5.01), who has lost three consecutive starts as the Reds (25-39) have plummeted to the bottom of the NL Central with the league’s worst record. The right-hander has allowed at least six earned runs in each of his last four outings, nearly doubling his ERA from 2.64 since May 16.
Arroyo has lost five straight decisions, his most prolonged slump since dropping six starts in a row between May and June of 2004.
“My stuff has been about the same all year,” Arroyo said after allowing six runs in 6 2-3 innings in the Reds’ 6-4 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday. “I’m just not getting the job done, plain and simple.”
Arroyo is 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in five career starts against the Angels, but he hasn’t faced them since 2005, when he pitched for Boston. He has just one win in 10 career interleague starts.
The Reds are hoping to build off a 1-0, 12-inning victory over Cleveland on Sunday. Center fielder Josh Hamilton threw out a baserunner at the plate in the top of the 12th, and Alex Gonzalez hit an RBI single in the bottom of the inning as Cincinnati improved to 3-3 in interleague games—all against the Indians.
The Reds have won three of four overall since a four-game losing streak.
“They’re not going to give up,” manager Jerry Narron told the team’s official Web site. “It seems like sometimes we have the heart ripped out of us, but we come back the next day and play hard.”
The Angels suffered their first loss in six interleague games with a 9-6 defeat at St. Louis on Sunday. It was just their second loss in nine games this month.
Third baseman Chone Figgins extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single in the third inning. He is batting .489 (22-for-45) during the streak, raising his season average from .133 to .252. Figgins is 4-for-13 (.308) with a home run against Arroyo.
The Angels won two of three games in their only previous series against the Reds from June 7-9, 2002 in Anaheim.