A revived offense has been a major factor that has carried the Los Angeles Angels on their surge back to the top of the AL West, but the Baltimore Orioles have showed their lineup can be dangerous, too.
The Angels may slip back out of first place on Saturday if they can’t rebound from a loss to Baltimore as the teams continue their four-game series in Anaheim.
Los Angeles often lacked punch offensively during its relatively disappointing start, when the team that had won its division four of the last five years was at .500 through 58 games.
The club’s bats have awakened lately, though, averaging 6.4 runs in the last 20 games, with the Angels (43-35) winning 14 of them. That’s nearly two runs per game more than they had been scoring before.
“When you face that lineup, they’ll make you work for it - especially those guys at the top,” Baltimore Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “They’ll work the count and foul pitches off with two strikes, and they don’t chase.”
Still, it was the Orioles (36-44) who jumped out to a fast start in Friday’s game. Baltimore scored all of its runs in the first four innings of a 6-4 win, sparked by the top four in its lineup.
That quartet - Brian Roberts(notes), Adam Jones(notes), Nick Markakis(notes) and Aubrey Huff(notes) - had been 1 for 16 with five strikeouts in a 5-2 loss in Thursday’s series opener, but they were 6 for 16 with six runs scored and four RBIs Friday, with the biggest blow coming on Huff’s three-run homer in the third.
The Angels have now dropped three of four, and they suddenly find themselves tied with Texas atop the West after they had retaken the lead. They dropped the last two games of their series with the Rangers this week.
They’ll certainly be hoping to avoid a similar outcome this weekend, and they figure to have the edge in a pitching matchup Saturday that features a pair of rookie right-handers with a combined 10 games of major league experience.
“He’s a young kid who pitched like a vet,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
Baltimore’s Jason Berken(notes) (1-5, 6.44) hasn’t been as successful. He won his major league debut on May 26 and has not won since, allowing four runs in five innings of Monday’s 4-0 loss to Boston.
“Every outing for me is a learning experience,” Berken said. “The last thing I am going to do is sit here and feel sorry for myself. It’s tough to pitch in the big leagues.”
Before that victory, Baltimore had dropped its first three games of the year against the Angels, including a two-game sweep at Camden Yards on April 28-29. It has not won back-to-back games in Anaheim since May 21-22, 2003.