The Los Angeles Angels' postseason fortune could hinge on how they handle their remaining road games.
They're off to a good start on a trip that continues Friday night with the first of three meetings with the Cleveland Indians.
After losing 12 of their previous 13 road tilts, the Angels (65-62) began this nine-game trek by winning two of three from Detroit. That series ended with Michigan native Matt Shoemaker limiting the Tigers to one hit through 7 1-3 innings in Thursday's 2-0 victory.
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"It's special to be able to do it here, but more importantly to get a win in a tight playoff race," said Shoemaker, whose Angels are among three teams within one game of each other for the AL's second wild-card spot.
Los Angeles had lost 12 of 13 road games before that series win. The Angels are just 26-35 as the visitor this season and play 20 of their final 35 games away from Anaheim, where the team's ERA is 4.41 compared to 3.36 at home.
Though Cleveland (60-66) is an AL-worst 26-34 at home, it has won six of seven at Progressive Field following a two-game sweep of Milwaukee capped by Wednesday's 6-2 victory. Jason Kipnis went 5 for 9 with a homer, three doubles and five RBIs in that series while increasing his MLB-best home average to .383.
Kipnis, hitting an AL-best .325 overall, leads a top three of the order that's been hot. Rookie Francisco Lindor is 12 for 19 with two homers over the last five games, and Michael Brantley is batting .415 with 15 RBIs in his last 15.
"I enjoy being part of it, whether I'm in the middle, the back or I'm just watching them because I got a day off," said Lindor, hitting .310 since being promoted to the majors in mid-June.
The trio takes its first swings against Andrew Heaney (5-2, 3.39 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 5.88 ERA in five August starts after winning five straight June 30-July 26.
Heaney comes in off his worst outing, having surrendered eight runs in 3 1-3 innings in a 15-3 loss to heavy-hitting Toronto on Saturday. The rookie left-hander had yielded two runs or fewer in nine of his 10 previous outings and all four on the road, where he's 2-1 with 2.13 ERA this season.
The Indians are 15-27 against lefty starters, though both Lindor (.315) and Brantley (.313) have fared well versus southpaws.
Like Heaney, Danny Salazar (11-7, 3.30) looks to rebound from a rough last assignment. The hard-throwing righty was reached for five runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings in Saturday's 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees, ending a superb four-start sequence in which he went 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA.
One of those starts came against the Angels on Aug. 5. Salazar allowed a solo homer to Kole Calhoun and two other hits across six innings but was denied a victory when Los Angeles rallied for three runs in the ninth to win 4-3.
Calhoun is 3 for 6 with two homers off Salazar, who is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts versus the Angels despite handling Mike Trout. The reigning MVP is 1 for 6 with four strikeouts in the matchup.
Trout has 33 homers but has failed to hit one in 19 straight games.
The Angels won two of three from Cleveland earlier this month and are 7-3 in the series since the start of last season.