Los Angeles Angels manger Mike Scioscia knows his power hitters will need to produce if the team is going to end a two-year postseason drought.
The bullpen will also have to play a crucial role - and it did in the season opener.
After a strong pitching performance earned Los Angeles a win in its first game, C.J. Wilson will try to turn in one of his own in his first career start against the Cincinnati Reds and Mat Latos on Wednesday night.
With the offseason signing of former MVP Josh Hamilton, the Angels have one of the most feared lineups in the majors with reigning AL rookie of the year Mike Trout and three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols. That trio, however, went 1 for 14 with four strikeouts in a 3-1, 13-inning victory Monday.
The Angels were able to win because six relievers allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings, striking out nine, in the first-ever interleague season opener. They followed Jered Weaver, who allowed two hits in his six innings.
Los Angeles tied Boston for the most blown saves in the AL last season with 22.
"We are built on the offensive side, no doubt," Scioscia told the Angels' official website. "But we're not going to get our goal done unless we're able to hold leads, and we did it tonight."
Catcher Chris Iannetta provided all his team's offense with a homer and a two-run single.
Now the Angels go for their fourth straight victory in Cincinnati with Wilson on the hill. The left-hander is looking to bounce back after going 4-5 with a 5.54 ERA in 16 post-All-Star break outings last year, finishing 13-10 with a 3.83 ERA in his debut season with Los Angeles.
"If last year's my down year, in a nine-year cycle, and it's the worst year I have, perspective-wise, I think a lot of pitchers would take those results," Wilson said. "Not me. I'm not happy with that."
He also can't feel good about a 7.11 spring training ERA, though he's posted a 0.00 ERA in 2 1/3 innings of relief against the Reds.
Like the Angels, who struck out 17 times Monday, Cincinnati is looking to get on track at the plate after leaving 10 men on base. Newcomer Shin-Soo Choo had a double and two of the Reds' three hits out of the leadoff spot, but Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce had no hits in 14 total at-bats.
"We just have to get better at putting the ball in play," manager Dusty Baker told the Reds' official website.
Left fielder Ryan Ludwick might not be able to help with that for a while after suffering a dislocated right shoulder during a head-first slide into third base. Chris Heisey would be his likely replacement.
Latos begins his second year in Cincinnati after a strong first one, going 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA despite a 1-2 record and 5.97 ERA in April.
Latos is 2-8 with a 5.73 ERA in 13 career starts in that month.
"I don't know what it is for me," he said. "I should have pitched in the (World Baseball Classic this year). I would have gotten my April out of the way."
Latos has never faced the Angels.
Pujols is 2 for 6 with a double against Latos, while Choo has two hits and a homer in 11 at-bats off Wilson.
Los Angeles has taken two of three in the previous two series with Cincinnati.
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