Mike Trout celebrated his birthday in a big way, and the Los Angeles Angels hope it was a sign of more things to come after their recent slump.
Facing a struggling Ubaldo Jimenez could be conducive for another big offensive performance Saturday night against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium.
Trout, who turned 24, had been 1 for 20 with seven strikeouts over his previous five games before going 2 for 3 with his major league-leading 33rd homer and two walks in an 8-4 win in Friday's series opener. Trout is already three shy of last year's career-high home run total and has gone yard in six of his last 11 home games against Baltimore.
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The AL wild card-leading Angels (58-50) had scored three runs or fewer seven times during a 1-9 stretch, but have since won three of four while scoring 17 runs in the victories. Friday was a balanced effort with five players besides Trout driving in a run, including three RBIs and two doubles between Nos. 8 and 9 hitters Johnny Giavotella and Chris Iannetta.
Jimenez (8-7, 4.04 ERA) is 1-4 in his last six starts and has been shelled in the last four, allowing a .309/.378/.605 slash line while serving up six homers in 18 2-3 innings. He had been yielding 0.72 home runs per nine innings prior to that stretch, which would have been his lowest mark since 2010.
The right-hander gave up six runs over 4 2-3 innings in Sunday's 6-1 loss to Detroit.
"He was wild in the strike zone again," manager Buck Showalter told MLB's official website. "He had trouble getting the ball where he wanted to get it, especially with some counts in his favor."
Jimenez has lost all five previous starts against the Angels with a 5.34 ERA, though that was inflated by his last trip to Anaheim in 2012 when he gave up eight runs in four innings of a 9-6 loss with Cleveland. He's actually posted quality starts in three of his last four matchups, and permitted two runs in seven innings in a 6-1 loss May 16.
Trout is 3 for 9 with a double against Jimenez.
The Orioles (55-53) could use a lengthy outing from Jimenez after Kevin Gausman allowed six runs in 5 2-3 innings, the sixth time in eight games they've gotten fewer than six innings from their starter.
Garrett Richards (11-8, 3.46) is also seeking his first win against this opponent, having gone 0-2 with a 6.16 ERA in three starts against Baltimore. He surrendered seven runs over 4 1-3 innings in the first in 2012. The offense faltered behind him May 17 when he limited the Orioles to two runs over 7 2-3 innings in a 3-0 loss.
Richards is looking to improve to 8-2 at home, where he owns a 2.36 ERA in 10 outings. Monday's 5-4 win over Cleveland, in which he surrendered four runs in 7 1-3 innings, marked just the second time he failed to deliver a quality start in his last 18 games at Angel Stadium. His 11 strikeouts tied a career high, however.
Jimenez has one quality start in his last five road outings and owns a 5.25 ERA in 12 this year.