The Cleveland Indians can ill-afford to slide any further back in the postseason hunt, and they'll try to make a statement on Monday when they visit Angel Stadium to begin a three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Indians dropped two of three in Oakland over the weekend, including Sunday's 7-3 setback. Scott Kazmir allowed five earned runs for the second consecutive start, as Oakland jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
As a result, the Tribe (66-58) entered Monday seven games back of Detroit in the American League Central and 4 1/2 games out in the wild card race. They have lost nine of their last 13 games overall.
"It's go time," second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "We don't have time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves about losing two of three here. It's time to take care of business."
The Angels have lost six of their last eight games after dropping two of three at home to the last-place Houston Astros over the weekend. Mark Trumbo and Josh Hamilton homered in Sunday's 7-5 loss.
Second-year center fielder Mike Trout, who is once again in the AL MVP conversation, exited in the sixth inning with right hamstring tightness. He was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored at the time of his departure. It marked the 40th straight game Trout reached base, which is the longest current streak in the majors. His status for Monday's game is uncertain.
"It's all right. I'm just sore," Trout said. "It's not like it popped or anything. It was just a little grabbing, so it shouldn't be too serious. I didn't really feel anything until I got to second base. I'll see how it is (Monday)."
Jered Weaver gets the start for the Halos in Monday's series opener, and it has been an up-and-down year for the right-hander. Weaver sits at 7-6 with a 3.49 ERA after winning 20 games a year ago. He was hit hard by the Yankees his last time out, as he gave up nine runs on nine hits over five innings of work. He had posted a 1.49 ERA over his previous five starts.
The bullpen worked overtime against Houston this weekend, so a deep outing from Weaver would certainly come in handy for the Angels.
"We're dealing with some things, but you have to try to do exactly what you're saying, carry good play onto the field, carry momentum one pitch at a time," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The last three weeks it's been tough with some of the things in our bullpen. A couple guys are exhausted, lets just say it. Many guys are throwing too much so you have to make decisions on giving guys days off which has further thinned some of the depth you have down there."
Danny Salazar makes his fourth career big league start for Cleveland. He gave up a pair of home runs against Minnesota in his previous outing, which lasted only four innings.
"This kid's going to be pitching for a long time, and we just thought give him a little bit of a blow rather than let him grind through one more inning," manager Terry Francona said. "His stuff is very good. He's willing to compete. This kid, he's the real deal, he just needs experience. We just need to monitor right now."
The Angels won two of three when these teams met up in Cleveland from Aug. 9-11.