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News » Angels-Royals Preview 2009-09-06

Angels-Royals Preview 2009-09-06

Angels-Royals Preview 2009-09-06The Los Angeles Angels ascended to the top of AL West behind the highest-scoring offense in the majors.

That same offense has been virtually nonexistent this month.

The Angels try to break out of their slump and remain perfect this season against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday when they face the struggling Luke Hochevar, who hasn't won in six weeks.

After scoring 33 runs in its final four games of August to lead the majors in runs (746) through the first five months of the season, Los Angeles (80-54) has totaled five runs while batting .177 in its first four games of September. Leadoff hitter Chone Figgins and slugger Vladimir Guerrero have struggled mightily this month, combining to go 3 for 31 in the four games.

Despite its offensive struggles, the Angels have won the first two games of this series at Kauffman Stadium, each by a 2-1 score.

Erick Aybar had three hits, including a tiebreaking RBI single in the 11th inning Saturday for Los Angeles, which is 8-0 against the Royals (51-84) this season and 11-1 dating to last year.

While Saturday's game featured Zack Greinke of the Royals and John Lackey of the Angels matching up in a pitcher's duel, that likely won't happen again Sunday with Hochevar (6-8, 5.74 ERA) on the mound.

Since defeating Texas on July 25, Hochevar is 0-5 with a 7.30 ERA in his last seven starts with Kansas City losing each. The right-hander was 4-0 with a 3.43 ERA in his previous six outings.

Hochevar had a tough time Monday at Oakland, permitting seven runs, six hits and four walks in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-5 loss.

"I've got to do a better job of recognizing and having a meeting with myself on the mound and getting things back together and getting the ball back down in the zone," he told the Royals' official Web site.

This will be Hochevar's first career start against the Angels, who counter with Joe Saunders (11-7, 5.02).

Saunders appears to be fully healed from some tightness in his throwing shoulder that put him on the disabled list for 2 1/2 week in the middle of August.

After going 1-3 with a 9.63 ERA in his final eight starts before going on the DL, the left-hander has posted a 1.50 ERA in winning both starts since returning to the rotation. He gave up three hits with three walks in seven innings of a 10-0 win over Seattle on Monday.

"Physically, everything was good - I felt strong," Saunders told the Angels' official Web site. "The last two starts for me have been nice, throwing without tightness, doing what I can do."

Saunders' last start against the Royals came during that stretch when he was struggling before going on the DL. He was tagged for six runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 9-6 win at Kansas City on July 22, but didn't receive a decision.

Saunders will be facing a Kansas City team that learned Saturday outfielder Jose Guillen will miss the rest of the season because of a right knee injury.

That was just the beginning of the bad news for the AL-worst Royals, who have lost three straight and 12 of 16.

Gil Meche and Brian Bannister will miss their next scheduled starts with right shoulder fatigue, and left-handed reliever John Bale is likely done for the year with a hamstring injury.

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Author:Fox Sports
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Added: September 6, 2009

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