A three-game set in Houston could be a boon to the Los Angeles Angels' playoff hopes. They can head there with quite a bit of momentum by further damaging the Minnesota Twins' chances.
The Angels will try to draw closer to postseason position by sweeping this four-game series with the sliding Twins on Sunday.
Los Angeles (76-72) is 1 1/2 games back of Houston for the league's second wild-card spot with 14 to go, while Minnesota (75-73) trails by 2 1/2. Whereas the Twins have no games left against the teams they're chasing for a wild-card spot, the Angels visit the AL West rival Astros on Monday to begin a series that could give one club a distinct advantage in the race.
While Houston beat Oakland 10-6 on Saturday, the Angels still made up some ground and leapfrogged the Twins in the standings by sweeping a doubleheader with a 4-3 win in 12 innings and a 5-2 victory in the nightcap.
"We all know; we know that we control our own fate from here on out given with the teams we play from here until the end of the season," said right-hander Garrett Richards, the winner of Saturday's second game. "We're just trying to treat it one game at a time and go out and win one game at a time."
The Angels are turning to Matt Shoemaker (7-9, 4.31 ERA), who has allowed one run and six hits in 14 1-3 innings while winning his last two starts. His most recent, however, was back on Sept. 1 because he's been battling tightness in his right forearm.
"It's one of those things where we're in a tight playoff race. I just want to help this team out, do everything I can to help them win," Shoemaker told MLB's official website.
Shoemaker was 0-6 with a 4.60 ERA in his first eight home starts before throwing six scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in each of the last two, including a 7-0 win over Minnesota on July 21.
The Twins, 3 for 17 with runners in scoring position during the doubleheader, have lost five in a row - all at home. They haven't had a longer losing streak overall or at home since dropping their final six games of 2013.
"I think everyone's feeling a little bit of weight," manager Paul Molitor said. "It's a new experience for a lot of these guys. Some of these at-bats, you can tell they're trying really hard."
Tyler Duffey (3-1, 3.72) faces the Angels for the first time after Minnesota opted against starting Phil Hughes due to a lower back injury that's sidelined him since Aug. 9.
While it's unclear if Hughes will be shut down for the season, the Twins have considered limiting Duffey's innings even though he's pitched well. The rookie right-hander tossed 138 innings in the minors before logging 38 2-3 in seven starts with Minnesota after being promoted last month.
Duffey is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his last six outings after defeating Detroit on Monday, yielding one run with seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-1 win.
"I'm getting the opportunity to pitch in some really meaningful games. That's all you can ask for," Duffey said.
He'll try to slow down Mike Trout, who is hitting .354 with 16 RBIs in 12 games at Minnesota. He has four homers and nine RBIs in the past four after connecting for a solo shot in the second game Saturday.