The Angels and Yankees each try to extend their longest winning streaks of the season in Monday night's opener.
Los Angeles (24-25) stumbled out of the gate by losing 14 of its first 20 games, dropping two of three at Yankee Stadium in mid-April, but is suddenly starting to look like the division contender most expected. The Angels have won six straight and are one victory away from getting back to .500 for the first time since they were 2-2 on April 9.
"We got off to a rough start but everyone stayed on an even keel,'' said Mark Trumbo, who homered in Sunday's 4-2 win over Seattle. "We have confidence in what we're doing now. This is the style of play we knew we could do. I don't see any reason why we can't continue.''
The offense is steadily improving, averaging 4.3 runs during the winning streak after averaging 3.6 to start the year, and Albert Pujols is starting to look comfortable in his new environment.
Although he had a six-game hitting streak end Sunday, Pujols is still batting .308 with six homers and 14 RBIs in the last 13 contests.
The Yankees' offense is also built to score runs in bunches, though it wasn't doing that a week ago.
New York (26-21) averaged 2.1 runs in going 1-6 from May 15-21, but has averaged 5.6 in winning its five games since.
"You're going to have good stretches, you're going to have bad stretches,'' Derek Jeter said after Sunday's 2-0 victory in Oakland.
Jeter singled Sunday for his 3,155th career hit, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer George Brett to move into sole possession of 14th place all-time, and is batting .400 during a seven-game hitting streak versus the Angels.
Mark Teixeira heads to Anaheim as one of the Yankees' hottest hitters after finishing the series against the Athletics 8 for 14 with three homers, three doubles and eight RBIs - raising his batting average 28 points to .254.
"I've been waiting for that hot streak and I found it the last few days,'' Teixeira said. "Sometimes that's the name of the game, getting hot. As a team we're winning games, which is great.''
Teixeira and the rest of the Yankees, however, could have trouble generating much offense Monday against Jered Weaver (6-1, 2.61 ERA).
Weaver gave up a run, three hits and two walks over eight innings in Wednesday's 3-1, 11-inning win over Oakland. Excluding a disastrous outing against Texas on May 13, he has a 1.00 ERA in his other five since April 27.
Weaver, whose turn in the rotation didn't come up in the Angels' trip to the Bronx in April, was 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 15 innings in two starts against the Yankees last season.
Teixeira is hitting .188 in 16 at-bats against the right-hander since 2008, while Jeter is 2 for 20.
New York counters with Phil Hughes (4-5, 4.94), who gave up two runs and five hits in six innings in Tuesday's 3-2 win over Kansas City. He improved to 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA over his last four starts after opening 1-4 with a 7.48 ERA.
One of those shaky starts, however, came against Los Angeles - a team that has historically given the righty problems.
Hughes, who grew up near Anaheim, was knocked around by the Angels on April 14 for six runs and eight hits - including homers by Howie Kendrick and Chris Iannetta - in 3 1-3 innings of a 7-1 loss. Kendrick was 3 for 3, while Pujols was 2 for 2 with a double.
In four career starts against Los Angeles, Hughes is 1-2 with an 8.69 ERA and 1.98 WHIP.
- New York Yankees
- Los Angeles Angels
- Los Angeles
- Mark Teixeira
- Albert Pujols