The resurgent Angels seek their eighth win in nine home games Saturday night as they continue a three-game series against the sputtering Twins.
Maicer Izturis came up with a key home run for the second time in four games, hitting his first career grand slam in the Angels’ 10-1 rout in Friday’s series opener. Izturis hit a tiebreaking homer off Boston’s Curt Schilling in a 4-2 win Monday.
Los Angeles (67-47) has won four of five to extend its lead in the AL West to 3 1/2 games over Seattle, which lost 5-3 to the Chicago White Sox.
The Angels started slowly in the second half, losing seven of their first 11 games. During that stretch, they averaged 4.2 runs and batted .267 (101-for-378) with only two home runs.
A vastly improved offense has been the main catalyst during their current 10-5 stretch. They are scoring 6.7 runs while hitting .314 (166-for-528) with 15 home runs in those 15 games.
Chone Figgins is batting .443 (27-for-61) with 10 RBIs and 14 runs scored in that span.
“For teams that don’t hit for a lot power, baserunning is more important,” Figgins said. “Taking extra bases—going from first to third, stealing bases— it gives your hitters a lot more opportunities to succeed because they’re not always hitting with a runner at first and one or two outs.”
The Twins (58-57), losers of four of five, have scored fewer than two runs in five of their past six games. They have scored a major league-low 84 runs since the All-Star break.
“It’s tough, man,” Torii Hunter said. “All year we’ve been inconsistent. We’ll show promise for two or three games, and then we stink for about seven games. It’s been a roller coaster. We just need to find that consistency. It’s getting late though. You can’t keep saying that. I’ve been saying it for three months now.”
Reigning AL MVP Justin Morneau has been one of the biggest culprits with no home runs and four RBIs in his last 16 games.
Angels ace John Lackey (14-6, 3.11 ERA) may have a chance to take over the major league lead in wins with his career-high 15th victory. The right-hander is one of four pitchers in the majors with 14 wins and Boston’s Josh Beckett pitches earlier Saturday in Baltimore.
Lackey won his second straight start, 4-3 at Oakland on Sunday, yielding three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings.
The right-hander, who won a career-best 14 games in 2004 and again the next season, has only won one of his last five starts at home. Included in that stretch was an 8-5 loss to the Twins on June 6 during which he gave up six runs - four earned - and seven hits in seven innings.
Lackey is 4-5 with a 4.35 ERA in 11 career starts against Minnesota, with his last win coming on July 17, 2005.
Michael Cuddyer has three hits - all home runs - in 11 at-bats against Lackey.
The Twins counter with Carlos Silva (9-12, 4.51), who has struggled on the road. The right-hander, who 0-3 with an 8.62 ERA in his last three starts away from home, has lost seven of his last eight road outings.
Silva matched a season high with six strikeouts and allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings, but didn’t receive any support again Monday in a 4-0 loss to Cleveland.
It was the sixth time this season that the Twins have been shut out with him on the mound.
Silva beat the Angels 7-5 on July 20 despite giving up five runs and a season high-tying 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings. He is 5-1 with a 4.14 ERA in seven starts against them.
Orlando Cabrera is batting .476 (10-for-21) with a home run against Silva.
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