With a rare chance to move closer to the top of the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels couldn’t take advantage of their opportunity. The Angels look to keep pressure on the division leaders Saturday night when they continue their series with the Colorado Rockies.
Trailing division-leading Texas by 4 1/2 games entering Friday, the Angels (41-35) lost 4-3 in 11 innings to the Rockies and couldn’t make up any ground on the Rangers, who had their 11-game winning streak snapped with a 7-4 defeat to Houston.
Looking to avoid a third straight loss for the first time since a season-high seven-game slide April 30-May 6, the Angels give the ball to Joe Saunders(notes) (5-8, 5.07 ERA). The left-hander is 0-2 with an 11.88 ERA in his last two starts - both against NL clubs - after posting a 4-1 record in his previous six outings.
Saunders matched a season low with 2 2/3 innings in Sunday’s 12-1 loss at the Chicago Cubs, giving up five runs and nine hits.
“I feel like I had great stuff,” he said. “I got a lot of ground balls, there just seemed to be a constant hole on that left side of the infield. Perfectly placed ground balls, the defense just wasn’t there for me today, but that’s going to happen.”
Saunders is 1-6 with a 6.75 ERA in eight starts at Angel Stadium this season.
The Rockies (39-34), winners in six of eight, will counter with Aaron Cook(notes) (2-4, 4.82). The veteran right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two career starts in Anaheim, but he is 0-4 with a 7.38 ERA in eight road starts this season. Cook hasn’t won outside Denver since July 16 at San Diego.
Cook, among the NL leaders with a 6.39 run support average, will look for more backing after the Rockies were held to a season-low three hits in his last start, Sunday’s 6-1 loss to Milwaukee.
“I’ve just got to go out there and do my job,” Cook told the Rockies’ official website. “I can’t put any added pressure on myself to say, ‘I have to throw a shutout today.’ You just go out there and take it one pitch at a time and try to keep us in the game long enough for us to have a chance to win.”
Colorado has an opportunity to win its third straight series, which would be a first for the club since September.
The loss of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki(notes) to a fractured left wrist earlier this month was a major blow to the Rockies, but the team has received a boost from infielder Jonathan Herrera(notes), who had the game-winning, two-out RBI single Friday and has back-to-back three-hit games. Called up May 31, Herrera is batting .452 (14 for 31) while hitting safely in seven consecutive games.
“For a young kid to handle himself in the manner in which he did with the way this game started and to finish in the manner in which he did, not enough can be said about the job that was done late,” said Rockies manager Jim Tracy.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said shortstop Erick Aybar(notes) will be in Saturday’s starting lineup after he pinch-hit and replaced Brandon Wood(notes) at shortstop Friday. It was Aybar’s first action since June 14 due to a hyperextended left knee.
The Angels have lost four of six to Colorado after winning 12 of 13 in this matchup.