Angels-Twins Preview

The Los Angeles Angels are in a stretch of 10 of 13 games against the two teams they're chasing for the AL's second wild card.

They're making good use of the head-to-heads so far.

A fourth win in five such games could come Friday night in Minnesota, while the Twins will try to stop squandering their chances to catch Houston.

More from FoxSports

The Angels (74-72) opened the series with Thursday's 11-8 victory, winning their fifth in a row at Target Field and moving to 10-1 against the Twins since the start of 2014.

The win also pulled them within a game of Minnesota (75-71) and 2 1/2 of the Astros, who lost their fourth straight. Los Angeles beat Houston in two of three last weekend and heads to Minute Maid Park for three beginning Monday.

Los Angeles, which is 20-32 with an MLB-low .230 average since July 23, got the kind of offensive night its been starved of for much of the second half.

Mike Trout was 2 for 3 with a grand slam and solo home run, giving him four in five games and a career-high 38. He's one shy of Reggie Jackson (1982) and Vladimir Guerrero (2004) for third on the franchise's single-season list. Troy Glaus, who hit 47 in 2000 and 41 the next year, is the only Angel to reach 40.

"It's September. We got to go now," Trout said. "It's time to go. We've got like (16) games left and every one of them is going to be big. We've got to win them all."

Minnesota has dropped three in a row despite Torii Hunter's continued production. The 40-year-old is batting .405 with 10 RBIs in his last nine games.

"I don't care who you're with, it's no fun to see Trout get five RBIs and two home runs and that offense just took off like that," said Hunter, who homered for the second time in four games. "It's no fun to be on that side."

Trout's been far less to blame for the offensive struggles than Albert Pujols, who was 0 for 4 Thursday for a third straight game and has hit .152 in his last 18. Among active ballparks, Target Field is the only one where he hasn't hit multiple home runs, and his .594 OPS there is his lowest among the 38 venues he's played in.

Neither big bat has done much against Mike Pelfrey, who's been struggling after a lengthy honeymoon in his return from missing nearly all of 2014.

Pelfrey (6-9, 4.09 ERA) is 1-7 with a 5.51 ERA in his last 16 starts after going 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA in his first 11. Since his last win Aug. 12, he's 0-2 with a 6.26 mark in five. After consecutive losses, the right-hander kept the team in a 3-2 win at Kansas City on Sept. 9 by limiting the Royals to a run and five hits over 5 1-3 innings.

During a 5-2 road loss July 22, Pelfrey gave up four runs - two earned - and nine hits to fall to 3-2 with a 3.94 ERA in five starts against the Angels. Chris Iannetta homered and is 6 for 13 against the 31-year-old, but Trout is 1 for 7 and Pujols 4 for 17.

The Angels counter with Andrew Heaney, who's now passed Hector Santiago for the top ERA in the rotation.

Heaney (6-3, 3.32) did his part in Sunday's 5-3 home loss to Houston, allowing six hits and keeping the Astros scoreless through five innings, though it was the second straight start in which he stuck the bullpen with four innings of work.

The left-hander has been at his best on the road with a 3-1 record and 2.11 ERA in six starts as opposed to 3-2 with a 4.24 mark at home.