Before Los Angeles can focus on welcoming the other serious contender in the race for the AL West title, it has one last interleague hurdle to clear.
The first-place Angels try to build on their second big offensive performance in three games Wednesday night against the visiting Miami Marlins.Los Angeles (78-53) avoided being swept in a three-game set at Oakland last weekend with a 9-4 victory Sunday. The Angels, however, followed by losing 7-1 to Miami one day later to fall into a tie with the Athletics.After the A's lost at Houston on Tuesday, the Angels followed with an 8-2 victory to retake a one-game division lead. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and David Freese each had three hits for Los Angeles, which hosts Oakland for four games starting Thursday.While the Angels hope to carry a division lead into that series, they also look to maintain some consistency at the plate. After pounding out 16 hits Tuesday, they have something to build on."We just kept having good at-bats, and that's what we ask for," said Trout, who had gone 5 for 44 with 15 strikeouts in his previous 11 home games.Pujols is batting .361 with six RBIs in 10 games and is 16 for 32 with six RBIs in his last eight against the Marlins (65-66).Trout and Pujols, however, are each 0 for 7 versus All-Star Henderson Alvarez (10-5, 2.57 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in three starts against the Angels, but last faced them in 2012 with Toronto.In his only appearance at Anaheim in that same season, Alvarez tossed a six-hitter for a 4-0 victory.The right-hander allowed three runs and 14 hits in 22 innings over his previous three outings before yielding four on two homers and 10 hits total in six innings of a 13-5 win at Colorado on Friday to win his fourth consecutive start. It was his second start since coming off the disabled list with shoulder inflammation Aug. 16.Alvarez experienced some shortness of breath in Denver's high altitude but appears healthy enough to make this appearance.Los Angeles counters with Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.38), who has a 1.65 ERA while not factoring in the decision in any of his six starts since the All-Star break. Though he did earn the victory in relief of a 13-inning win over Baltimore on July 31, Santiago has received a total of eight runs while on the mound as the Angels have dropped five of those six starts.The left-hander has yielded two earned runs over 17 innings in his last three starts, including one earned in five innings of a 5-3 loss at Oakland on Friday.This will be his first appearance against the Marlins, who have dropped four of six.After going 7 for 17 with a homer and eight RBIs in the first four of Miami's current nine-game trip, Giancarlo Stanton went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts Tuesday.Los Angeles' Erick Aybar is batting .465 during an 11-game hitting streak.