Angels-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

An offensive boon has the Los Angeles Angels on their longest winning streak of the season.

An old friend is looking to end it.

Hot-hitting Mike Trout and the surging Angels face former teammate Ervin Santana in the opener of this four-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.

Los Angeles (19-27) has been one of baseball's biggest disappointments this season, but the team is showing signs of turning things around with four straight wins.

The Angels have hit .348 with five homers and outscored opponents 37-12 during the streak.

Struggling Seattle proved to be no match the last two games, as Los Angeles followed Tuesday's 12-0 rout with a 7-1 victory Wednesday. The Angels collected 27 hits with six doubles, three triples and three homers in those games.

"I think we're seeing much better at-bats from our team as a group," manager Mike Scioscia told the team's official website. "We're seeing much better team chemistry right now."

Trout had six hits with four going for extra bases over the past two games, including his first cycle and a career high-tying five RBIs Tuesday.

Last season's AL Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up is batting .359 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in his last 21 games after hitting .252 with two homers and 12 RBIs over his first 27.

"There's no doubt Mike brings an energy," Scioscia said. "Mike is sort of a lynchpin as he is going to set the table, but you want to set the table for him as well in that two spot and he's responded well."

Trout has a .333 average with three homers, six RBIs and nine runs in nine meetings with Kansas City (21-22).

Santana (3-3, 2.77 ERA) will try to slow Trout and the Angels.

The right-hander spent the past eight years with Los Angeles, winning 96 games to rank second to Jered Weaver's 102 over that span.

Santana was dealt to the Royals on Oct. 31 after going 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA last season.

He's lost his last two starts while allowing six runs in 13 1-3 innings, but he's been backed by two total runs.

Santana has struggled against Josh Hamilton over the past three years, allowing him to go 8 for 22 (.364) with three doubles and two homers.

The Angels' slugger is 5 for 11 with one triple, a home run and four RBIs over the past four games, increasing his average to .225.

While Hamilton is trying to revive his season, the Angels are hoping Joe Blanton (0-7, 6.62) can start doing the same.

The right-hander's losses and ERA are among the worst in baseball, but Los Angeles won his latest outing after losing his first eight of the season.

Blanton allowed four runs and 11 hits while hitting two batters over 4 1-3 innings of a 12-9 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.

That performance came five days after he was charged with an 11-4 home loss to the Royals in the opener of a three-game set, won by Kansas City.

Blanton was tagged for seven runs and 12 hits in 4 2-3 innings, as Billy Butler, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez combined to go 7 for 9.

Perez has missed the last two games with a hip injury, while Cain is 2 for 17 with six strikeouts in six games.

Butler hasn't been much better going 2 for 11 while the Royals dropped two of three at Houston, including Wednesday's 3-1 defeat.

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