After a lackluster start to the season, the Los Angeles Angels have picked up the pace -- especially on the road.
Seeking a 12th victory in 13 games as the visiting team, Los Angeles takes on the Baltimore Orioles in the opener of a two-game set Tuesday night.The Angels (40-33) have batted .280 and scored 147 runs during a 22-8 surge, putting behind them a rough first 43 games in which they hit .249 and scored 154 runs.Los Angeles defeated the Dodgers 5-3 on Sunday and has gone 11-4 in its last 15."We've been a better ballclub as the season has gone on, and that has to continue," said manager Mike Scioscia, whose club has outscored opponents 61-33 in winning 11 of 12 on the road. "It doesn't matter who we're playing or where we're playing, but how we're playing."While the Angels are hot, the Orioles (41-31) are struggling, due in large part to their inability to get much going at the plate. Baltimore has totaled eight runs in dropping four of six, and was shut out for seven innings Sunday before Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer in the eighth of a 2-1 win over Washington."Clutch," teammate J.J. Hardy said. "I mean, to win a ballgame like that the way we've been swinging was something we needed."Baltimore may have a difficult time breaking out of its slump with C.J. Wilson (8-4, 2.44 ERA) taking the mound for the Angels.Wilson has gone 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA over his last six outings, though he didn't have his best stuff last Tuesday. He gave up season worsts of five runs -- three earned -- and 10 hits over 6 1/3 innings of a 12-5 victory over San Francisco.He could be a bit sharper in this game, as the left-hander is 3-2 with a 2.09 ERA when pitching on at least six days' rest since the start of 2010. He has an overall 3.01 mark during that time frame."Baseball players are creatures of habit, and the routine for us is every five days. There's upsides and downsides," he told the team's official website. " ... The upside is, over the course of the season, here and there, little breaks kind of spell you. But everybody here's competitive, we want to get as many starts as we can."Wilson pitched one of the best games of his career in his only start at Camden Yards, striking out a career high-tying 12 over 8 2/3 innings of three-hit ball in a 2-0 win with Texas on Aug. 20, 2010.He'll be opposed by Brian Matusz (5-8, 5.00), who will be trying to avoid losing a season-worst fourth consecutive start. The left-hander labored through 4 2/3 innings of a 4-3 road defeat to the New York Mets on Wednesday, yielding three runs and seven hits while throwing 93 pitches."For me, I'd like to be able to go deeper in the games and that's what's frustrating (Wednesday)," said Matusz, who's compiled an 8.03 ERA during his losing streak. "I made some good pitches when I needed to, but I just need to get better."If his efforts against Los Angeles are any indication, Matusz could have a hard time doing that Tuesday. He allowed six runs -- four earned -- in five-plus innings of a 6-3 loss at Angel Stadium on April 20, and is 1/3 with a 6.10 ERA in four career starts in the series.The Orioles dropped two of three during that April set and are 4-8 in their last 12 against Los Angeles. However, they've won six of the previous nine matchups at home.