Even with injuries, the Los Angeles Angels appear to be finding their groove of late. They hope promising rookie Nick Adenhart can do the same in his second major league start Tuesday when Los Angeles continues its three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.
The AL West-leading Angels (21-13) have won three straight games and 15 of their last 22 since a 6-6 start. They have surged despite a spate of health problems. Starting pitchers John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar have yet to take the mound, infielders Howard Kendrick and Maicer Izturis are currently on the disabled list and utilityman Chone Figgins is day-to-day with a hamstring injury.
With Lackey and Escobar already absent, a forearm injury to Dustin Moseley has allowed Adenhart (0-0, 22.50 ERA) to get a taste of big-league life. The 21-year-old lasted just two-plus innings against Oakland on Thursday, throwing only 24 strikes in his 57 pitches as he allowed five runs and three hits with five walks. The Angels eventually lost 15-8.
“I let down the team first,” said Adenhart, who had been pitching on only three days’ rest after being called up from Triple-A Salt Lake. “You always want to go out and prove yourself to your teammates and your manager and your coaches. I was a disappointment to myself also.”
The right-hander will try to atone for that first start and follow Ervin Santana, who threw a four-hitter and struck out nine in Monday’s 4-0 victory. Santana, who matched teammate Joe Saunders’ 6-0 start, matched zeros with Royals counterpart Brett Tomko for seven innings, and Garret Anderson and Brad Wood hit back-to-back homers in a four-run ninth.
The Angels are 11-2 when holding teams to three runs or fewer, which includes a 2-1 mark in their three games against the Royals (14-17).
Los Angeles has not recorded consecutive shutouts since accomplishing the feat against Oakland on Sept. 28-29, 2006.
Kansas City hopes Brian Bannister (3-3, 4.04) can end the worst stretch of his career and avoid losing a fourth consecutive start. The right-hander may have bottomed out Wednesday at Texas, where he was tagged for seven runs and seven hits - including three home runs - in three innings of an 11-9 loss to the Rangers.
Bannister, a pitcher who relies on flyouts to be effective, admitted the windy conditions plagued him.
“I’m not a home-run pitcher. I never have been. The way the fastball cuts, it’s never generated a lot of home runs,” Bannister, who had allowed only one homer in his previous five starts, told the Royals’ official Web site. “On a night like tonight, all the odds were stacked against me.
“The ball was coming off their bats like a Super Ball.”
This will be his first career appearance against the Angels.
The Royals have been shut out four times already - all of them coming at home. They have totaled seven runs in their last four games after totaling 18 in the previous two.
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