Angels-Indians Preview


Jered Weaver has been one of the few bright spots for the Los Angeles Angels during their rough start.

The right-hander looks to continue his early success while trying to help the Angels avoid a fifth consecutive loss Friday night against a Cleveland Indians team hoping to improve its play at home.

With the additions of slugger Albert Pujols and veteran starter C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles is expected to be a serious contender for the AL pennant. However, the Angels (6-13) will need to turn things around if they want to live up to those expectations.

Los Angeles is in the midst of a season-high four-game skid after scoring five runs while being swept in three at Tampa Bay. The Rays' Brandon Allen hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in ninth off closer Jordan Walden to hand the Angels a 4-3 loss Thursday.

"We need to play at a higher level,'' said manager Mike Scioscia, whose team is 2-7 on the road. "You can't bury your head in the sand. We have a lot of confidence in our team.

"Right now it seems like we need that one spark."

Pujols could use a spark.

The three-time NL MVP snapped a 21 at-bat hitless slump with a single Thursday, but he is batting .224 with no homers and four RBIs. Pujols has 445 home runs, but none in 105 at-bats dating to Sept. 22, tying his longest regular-season drought from April 23-May 23, 2011.

He is 8 for 35 (.229) in nine games against the Indians, but three of those hits left the park.

The Angels could have a chance to turn things around Friday with Weaver (3-0, 2.43 ERA) on the mound. He is coming off his first complete game of 2012 after giving up three runs and five hits in a 6-3 win over Baltimore on Saturday.

"As a starter, our goal going into each and every game is to try to keep our team in the game and give us a chance to win," said Weaver, 12-0 with a 1.84 ERA in 15 starts before May 1 since the start of the 2010.

He's been almost as good at Progressive Field, going 4-0 with a 2.01 ERA in six starts.

Los Angeles has won six of eight against Cleveland, including two of three on the road in 2011.

Cleveland (9-8) has outscored opponents 54-41 while going 7-2 on the road, but has endured a 46-28 scoring disadvantage while losing six of eight at home this season.

"We love playing here,'' said manager Manny Acta, whose team was 44-37 at Progressive Field in 2011. "It's four bases and a mound everywhere you go. It's just a coincidence the way we're playing at home right now.''

The Indians were held to two runs for the second straight game in Thursday's 4-2 home loss to Kansas City.

"Home is where you've got to take care of your business,'' said third baseman Jack Hannahan, who is hitting .360 on the road but .259 at home. "It's just baseball. It's just a coincidence."

Scheduled Indians starter Justin Masterson (0-2, 6.65) is winless in four starts but has posted a 2.77 ERA while going 0-1 in two outings at home. He's also 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA in five career starts versus Los Angeles.

The right-hander allowed four runs and matched a career high with six walks in five innings of a 5-1 loss at Oakland on Sunday.

"It's about attacking the strike zone and being more consistent,'' Acta said of Masterson, who went 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA in April last season.