With three of their top sluggers injured, the Los Angeles Angels have been getting power production from some unlikely sources.
Chone Figgins(notes), Maicer Izturis(notes) and the rest of the red-hot Angels look to win nine straight for the first time in nearly five years Sunday when they wrap up a four-game set against the struggling Minnesota Twins.
In Saturday’s 11-5 win over the Twins (48-50), Figgins and Izturis, normally the table-setters in Los Angeles’ lineup, both homered during a nine-run fourth inning as the Angels (58-38) won for the 12th time in 13 games.
Despite injuries to designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero(notes) and outfielders Torii Hunter(notes) and Juan Rivera(notes), Los Angeles has had no shortage of offense, averaging 7.8 runs while batting .320 during an eight-game winning streak. The Angels haven’t won nine in a row since Aug. 18-27, 2004.
Figgins and Izturis have keyed this surge with uncharacteristic power-type numbers.
Figgins has hit two of his three homers of the season during the win streak and is 9 for 19 with five RBIs in the last four games. Izturis has hit two of his four home runs in the last three games, a stretch during which he’s 6 for 13 with seven RBIs.
“Those guys during this offense stretch - it’s very apparent that they’re doing some key things like driving the ball a little bit better,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “But the situational hitting, especially with runners in scoring position, is every bit as good as any team I’ve had here.”
While everything seems to be going the Angels’ way, Minnesota’s 10-game road trip cannot end fast enough.
The Twins have been outscored 39-14 during a four-game losing streak and are 3-6 on the trip. They’ve lost five in a row in Anaheim and are trying to avoid suffering a four-game sweep there for the first time in franchise history.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to the Angels, because they’re doing what we like to do,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They’re executing, running around the bases, everything we talk about. So we’ve got to find a way to find it in ourselves to get back to the right way to play the game.”
Twins right fielder Jason Kubel(notes) homered and had three RBIs Saturday and has been hit-or-miss at the plate in nine games since the All-Star break. He’s 10 for 16 (.625) with four home runs and 13 RBIs in four of the games, but 0 for 13 in the other five.
Coming off a 16-win season, Santana has had two stints on the disabled list this year. The right-hander showed signs that he might be coming around in his final start before the All-Star break, allowing one run and three hits in eight innings of a 6-2 win over Oakland on July 16. He wasn’t as sharp in Tuesday’s 8-5 win at Kansas City, though, giving up five runs and eight hits with seven strikeouts in six innings.
Santana has yielded five runs or more in four of his last five outings.
This will be his first start against the Twins after going 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two outings against them in 2008.
Swarzak, in Minnesota’s starting rotation for the injured Kevin Slowey(notes) (strained right wrist), allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings of Tuesday’s 3-2, 10-inning win over Oakland. The right-hander has yielded three runs or fewer in five of his seven starts.