After disposing of the defending World Series champions in a three-game weekend sweep, the Los Angeles Angels now get to play host to one of the AL’s worst teams.
In his first outing of the second half, Santana will try to pitch the Angels to their sixth straight win on Monday while trying to avoid falling to 0-6 in his career against the Indians.
Los Angeles (60-38) has the best record in baseball, but hadn’t swept anyone at home all season before the All-Star break. That changed this weekend, when they outscored the defending champion Boston Red Sox 20-8 in a three-game sweep.
The Angels capped the series on Sunday by scoring three runs in the eighth inning to complete a 5-3, come-from-behind win. It was their first three-game sweep of Boston in seven years, but manager Mike Scioscia was quick to downplay the achievement.
“We’ve got a long road ahead of us,” Scioscia said. “We played well this weekend, (but) I don’t see any carry-over. The season’s more than this weekend. We have to keep going.”
Santana (11-3, 3.34 ERA), one of three Angels to make the All-Star team - Joe Saunders and Francisco Rodriguez were the others - had a strong final outing before the break. when he pitched seven shutout innings, striking out 10, in Los Angeles’ 4-1 win over Oakland on July 12.
“He’s got the stuff to be one of the greatest pitchers in the AL,” Rodriguez, who recorded his major league-leading 40th save Sunday, told the Angels’ official Web site.
One thing Santana has yet to do in his four years in the majors is beat the Indians (43-54). The right-hander is 0-5 with a 6.59 ERA in six career starts against Cleveland.
Cleveland is tied with Kansas City for last place in the AL Central, but has played its best baseball of the season since trading ace CC Sabathia to Milwaukee on July 7.
The Indians have won six of their last seven, including a four-game sweep of AL East-leading Tampa Bay before the All-Star break and the final two games of their series at Seattle over the weekend.
“If we take advantage of opportunities, make pitches when we need to make pitches … we don’t have to play extraordinary to win ball games,” manager Eric Wedge told the Indians’ official Web site. “We just have to play good baseball to do that.”
Former Angel Paul Byrd will be on the mound for Cleveland looking to snap a personal five-game losing streak. Byrd (3-10, 5.47 ERA) hasn’t won since June 6, and is 0-5 with a 7.76 ERA in his last six starts.
The 37-year-old right-hander is 0-2 with a 12.91 ERA in his last two starts in Anaheim, including a three-inning, six-run effort in a 9-5 loss there April 9.
Vladimir Guerrero homered in each of the Angels’ last two wins against Boston, and he’s enjoyed facing Byrd in his career, batting .375 (9-for-24) with two homers and eight RBIs.