The Los Angeles Angels are heading into the final six weeks of the regular season with one of the best records in baseball.
Getting some strong work from C.J. Wilson could be one of the keys in keeping it that way over their final 40 games, which they'll get to work on Monday night in the opener of a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.The Angels (72-50) missed out on a fifth straight win and lost 3-2 in walk-off fashion Sunday in Texas. Los Angeles led 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, but Huston Street allowed four hits without recording an out. The closer had gone 13 innings without surrendering a run and saw his ERA jump from 0.80 to 1.20.He recorded saves in the first two games of the series, but said fatigue wasn't an issue."I didn't make very good pitches today," Street said. "That's the bottom line. I felt fine."Offensively, the Angels have been getting by without two of their top hitters doing much. Mike Trout went 1 for 3 Sunday, but the single stands as his only hit in 19 at-bats over five games. Josh Hamilton got the day off after going 5 for 38 with 18 strikeouts in his previous 10.There's plenty of reason to believe both could recover at Fenway. Trout is a .464 hitter in six games in Boston, while Hamilton has batted .353 with 27 RBIs in 24 games."We're going to let (Hamilton) exhale a day and see where we are, but our lineup long range has him in the middle of it," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB's official website.The Angels have won five of seven, thanks in large part to a starting staff that's posted a 2.05 ERA in that time.Wilson (9-8, 4.71 ERA) had an encouraging start his last time out and won for the first time in six appearances. The left-hander allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of Tuesday's 7-2 win over Philadelphia."C.J., that's in line with the way he can pitch and where we need him to be," Scioscia said. "Hopefully he's turned the corner on some things."The veteran's previous six starts had been a disaster with an 11.03 ERA and .394 opponents' batting average.Against Boston, Wilson is 5-2 with a 2.73 ERA in nine career starts. David Ortiz is 2 for 16 against him, while Dustin Pedroia, who missed Sunday's game with flu-like symptoms on his 31st birthday, is 9 for 21."He's been seen by our doctors, antibiotics administered," manager John Farrell said. "So hopefully this is a short-lived situation."The Red Sox (56-67) settled for a split of a four-game series with Houston to begin an 11-game homestand. Sunday's 8-1 loss was their seventh in their last 10 home contests.Brock Holt played second base in place of Pedroia and extended his hitting streak to a career-best 11 games. Double-play partner Xander Bogaerts went 0 for 3 and is in a 3-for-30 slump.Brandon Workman will now try for his first win at Fenway this season.Workman (1-6, 4.45) missed his last scheduled turn in the rotation because of fatigue after sandwiching in a relief appearance during a 19-inning game against the Angels on Aug. 9. He allowed a walk-off home run to Albert Pujols in the 5-4 defeat and has now taken the loss in six straight outings. It was his first appearance against Los Angeles.Boston took two of three in Los Angeles in that Aug. 8-10 series.
C.J. Wilson has thrown 48.8 percent of his pitches down in or below the strike zone this year, which is the fourth highest rate among qualified left-handed starters. Yoenis Cespedes and Mike Napoli have a 1.074 and 1.017 OPS respectively in plate appearances that end in pitches down in or below the strike zone from lefty starters; the league average for qualified hitters is .706.
Brandon Workman has thrown 34.3 percent of his pitches up in or above the strike zone this year, which is 8.7 percentage points higher than the MLB average for pitchers with at least 10 starts this season. Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, and Cole Calhoun have a 1.022, .899, and .897 OPS respectively in plate appearances that end with pitches up in or above the strike zone; the league average in such situations is .762. Conversely, Mike Trout has a .486 OPS in plate appearances that end with such pitches.