The Angels picked a good time to get hot, winning eight of their last nine to get within two and a half games of the AL Wild Card leaders.
In their last three series (sweeps over the Red Sox and Athletics and two of three from the Mariners) the Halos have received offensive production from some unlikely sources.
HUNTER LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Torii Hunter has been solid since the All-Star Break, with a slash line of .325/365/.420 through August 26, but in his last nine games he has really set the table by going 17-37 (.459). Pitchers have tried to pound Hunter low and away, but he has simply gone with the pitches and served them into right field.
Hunter isn’t hitting for much power (his .136 ISO is on pace to be his lowest since 2000), but the Angels don’t need him to hit for power out of the two-hole. His batting average is up to .305, which would be a career high and his on-base percentage of .357 would be the second-highest rate of his career.
Chris Iannetta didn’t exactly make a strong impression in his first year in Anaheim. Prior to hitting the disabled list with a broken wrist on May 9, he was hitting .197. To his credit he drew enough walks that his OBP was .312. And since the break he’s hitting .319 and in the last nine games he’s 10-23 with two home runs, two doubles and just two strikeouts.
After a simply brutal start to the second half of the season, the Angels pitching staff is finally living up to its potential. They have held opponents to three runs or fewer in each of the last eight games -- their longest streak of the season. The only team this season that has had a longer streak of three runs or fewer allowed is the Cardinals -- who went nine straight games at the end of April.
The Angels huge seven-game homestand will start off with the top two pitchers in baseball in strikeouts -- Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Scherzer is on the hill Friday and he leads all starters with 11.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Scherzer’s fastball has an average velocity of 94 MPH and has topped out this season at 99 MPH. He throws it over 60 percent of the time while throwing his changeup and slider around 20 percent of the time each.
The righty has dominated the Angels in two previous meetings this season, allowing a total of seven hits in 14 innings while striking out 18.
Mike Trout has had the most success of any Angel against Scherzer this season, with two hits including a home run. Both of those hits came off of sliders.