Joe Saunders has grown accustomed to winning this season. The same is true for his career against the team he spent watching while growing up.
The Los Angeles Angels’ All-Star can become the AL’s first 15-game winner while trying to remain perfect against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at Angels Stadium.
Saunders (14-5), who won a combined 15 games over his previous three seasons, is one of three pitchers who’ll try for their 15th victory Monday. Cleveland’s Cliff Lee and Colorado’s Aaron Cook also look to join Arizona’s Brandon Webb as 15-game winners.
Saunders enters this contest trying for a third straight victory after allowing two runs and five hits in six innings of a 9-2 win at Boston on Wednesday. Prior to that start, he gave up three earned runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-5 win at Baltimore on July 25 to improve to 4-0 versus the Orioles, the team he followed while growing up in nearby Virginia.
“I was just trying to hold the lead and get us through as long as I could,” Saunders told the Angels’ official Web site of that outing.
While the left-hander has yet to lose to Baltimore, he has a 5.16 ERA versus the Orioles, who are hitting .344 against him.
Saunders tries to help the Angels (69-42), owners of the major’s best record, avoid losing three in a row for the first time since June 25-28.
Los Angeles committed a season-high four errors and blew a five-run lead in falling 14-9 at New York on Sunday to drop its final two of a four-game set with the Yankees.
“Defense is an asset to this club and we just didn’t get it done,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose team allowed 10 unearned runs in the final two innings. “We just have to turn the page on this one.”
“We had a great trip,” Los Angeles’ Garret Anderson said. “This team doesn’t let losses bother it. You’ve got to look at the big picture.”
Teixeira, who makes his home debut with the Angels, is batting .222 (4-for-18) with five RBIs since being traded from Atlanta on Wednesday. Though he hasn’t faced Baltimore since 2006, the Annapolis, Md., native is hitting.307 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs in 35 games versus the Orioles.
Baltimore (53-57) lost 8-4 at Seattle on Sunday, but still won two of three in the series and is 4-2 on a nine-game road trip.
Brian Roberts had two hits, including a homer for the last-place Orioles. Roberts is batting .346 (9-for-26) in his last six games, but 1-for-11 against Saunders.
Baltimore could be without center fielder Adam Jones, who will undergo a CT scan Monday after fouling a ball off his left foot Saturday.
“It is not comfortable,” said Jones, who is hitting .326 in his last 31 games. “I would be able to play if it was comfortable.”
George Sarfate (4-2, 4.00) returns to the mound for the Orioles after allowing three earned runs and two hits in four innings of a 13-3 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday in his first major league start.
The right-hander has not allowed a run in 4 1-3 innings of relief against Los Angeles.