For the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels, getting swept by a last-place team was surprising. The way they lost three straight was even more unexpected.
The Angels look to avoid their first four-game losing streak in more than two months Friday night when they open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Los Angeles (49-30) entered its series against last-place Kansas City as one of the hottest teams in the majors, having won four straight games and nine of its last 11. The Angels had also won nine consecutive series to match a franchise record.
Their offense failed to execute against the Royals, though, scoring only seven total runs while going 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position during the three games. In Wednesday’s 1-0 loss, the Angels stranded six baserunners, hit into two double plays and had two runners thrown out attempting to steal.
“Those guys beat us and there’s no sense looking back,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We didn’t play well enough in these three games to win them. We just couldn’t get the hit with guys in scoring position.”
Offense usually isn’t an issue for the Angels, who are fifth in the AL in runs scored (400) and second in batting average (.291).
Los Angeles, which hadn’t been swept in a series since losing three at Boston from April 13-16, hasn’t dropped four in a row since a season-high six-game skid April 12-18.
Figgins is 9-for-15 (.600) with five runs scored, two RBIs and three steals in four games this season against the Orioles (34-43).
The Angels could be without rookie outfielder Reggie Willits after he bruised his right knee crashing into a wall Wednesday making a catch.
“His knee’s a little sore and he banged his arm a little bit, so we’ll evaluate him on Friday,” Scioscia said.
Kelvim Escobar (9-3, 2.81 ERA) looks to win his third straight start and fourth consecutive decision for the Angels. The right-hander continued his outstanding season Saturday in a 10-1 win over Pittsburgh, yielding one run and five hits over eight innings. He is 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA in four starts in June, and has allowed three runs or fewer in six of his last seven outings.
Escobar is 11-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 18 career starts against Baltimore.
Another poor performance by their bullpen prevented the Orioles from a potential three-game sweep of the New York Yankees on Thursday.
Baltimore relievers allowed four runs in the eighth inning, turning a two-run lead into a two-run deficit.
The game was suspended due to rain with the Yankees holding an 8-6 lead with two outs in the top of the eighth. It will be resumed July 27, at the point it was stopped, when New York returns to Camden Yards.
Brian Burres (3-2, 3.36) had his worst start of the season Saturday, lasting 4 1-3 innings while allowing four runs, four hits and five walks at Arizona. He did not receive a decision in the Orioles’ 7-4 defeat.
The left-hander was sharp in a 6-2 win over the Angels on May 31, yielding one run and three hits in five innings.
The Angels have won three of four against the Orioles this season, and eight of the past 10 meetings. They have, however, lost four of five their last five games at Camden Yards.