The additions of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson were supposed to make the Los Angeles Angels instant contenders in the AL West. It hasn't worked out that way so far, but things are looking up.
With Pujols starting to fulfill his usual lofty expectations, Wilson will try to provide another impressive outing while helping the Angels add to their season-high win streak and record their first four-game sweep in Seattle in 27 years.
Los Angeles (23-25) officially signed Pujols to a 10-year, $240 million contract in January after shelling out $75 million for Wilson (5-4, 2.90 ERA). That hasn't translated into instant success as the Angels are currently 6 1/2 games back of two-time defending AL champion Texas.
They were eight games behind before their run of five straight victories. Pujols homered in his third straight game and Alberto Callaspo hit a grand slam to push Los Angeles past Seattle 5-3 on Saturday.
"We've been playing pretty well the last couple weeks. Sooner or later, we knew we were going to turn it around," Pujols said. "We were not going to force things. That's the way this game is."
Pujols is hitting .304 with six homers and 17 RBIs over the past 17 games after batting .190 with one homer and eight RBIs in his first 30 with Los Angeles.
The first baseman is also batting .457 with five homers and 13 RBIs during a nine-game hit streak against the Mariners (21-28). He'll try to add to that while helping Wilson earn his fourth win in five matchups against Seattle.
The left-hander is coming off his best outing of the season, a 5-0 win in Oakland on Tuesday. Wilson allowed a single and two walks while striking out seven over eight innings.
"We have a great pitching staff and they're going to keep us in the game most of the time," Pujols said. "Our job as an offense is to try to score early and give them a little cushion so they can make their pitches. C.J. was outstanding keeping the ball down today."
Wilson will next try to lead the Angels to their first four-game sweep in Seattle since April 25-28, 1985. Los Angeles won four in a row at home over the Mariners from July 7-10.
Hector Noesi (2-5, 5.26), meanwhile, will try to help Seattle avoid that dubious feat while hoping to get some more support. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 3.80 ERA over his last three starts but has been given a combined six runs from his teammates.
He got one run during his eight innings against Texas on Tuesday but gave up all three runs in a 3-1 loss with two outs in the third inning. He also struck out a career-high seven in that defeat.
"He was outstanding today, eight strong innings. Did a great job against that lineup ... and gave us every opportunity to win the ballgame," manager Eric Wedge told the team's website.
Noesi has never started versus the Angels but struggled in his only appearance against them. He gave up four runs and three hits while recording two outs during a 6-0 loss for the New York Yankees on Sept. 10.
The Angels' previous six-game win streak was from Aug. 18-24.