The Los Angeles Angels and Milwaukee Brewers won't be playing in October, but they've done some damage over the past week against teams that appear to be headed to the postseason.
The two streaking clubs will meet at Miller Park on Friday night.
Though both teams are nearing elimination, trailing by double digits in the wild-card chase, the Los Angeles Angels and Milwaukee Brewers have hit their stride of late.
The Brewers (59-74) are coming off consecutive series wins at NL wild-card leaders Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, winning 4-0 Thursday at PNC Park for their fourth victory in six games.
Milwaukee is 21-18 since the All-Star break and has won 12 of its last 19 away from Miller Park.
"It was absolutely a good road trip," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We pitched great in the games we won and our offense, especially the younger guys, continued to do good things."
Aramis Ramirez hit a solo homer Thursday to finish the trip 8 for 23 and now returns home, where he's hitting .309 - 78 points above his road average.
Rookie Scooter Gennett has been hot wherever he's played, batting .431 since Aug. 5. He had three hits Thursday against hard-throwing Gerrit Cole, and now will have to adjust to facing the softer-tossing Jered Weaver (8-7, 3.46 ERA).
"I like facing guys who throw hard like Cole," Gennett said. "I can gear up for the fastball at 95, 96, 97 and that makes the breaking stuff seems slower than it is."
The Angels (60-72) have also been playing spoiler, having just taken two of three from AL wild-card leading Tampa Bay.
Los Angeles has posted a 1.87 ERA while winning five of six - all on the road. That carried into Thursday when Jason Vargas and two relievers allowed three hits in a 2-0 victory over the Rays, the Angels' 10th shutout of the season.
"The year's not over," Vargas said. "If we keep winning like this, we'll take it."
They'll look to Weaver to keep their impressive pitching performances going.
Weaver gave up 13 runs over 11 innings in losing his previous two starts before recording eight innings of one-run ball in Sunday's 7-1 victory over Seattle.
Despite retiring 13 of the last 14 batters he faced and throwing just 102 pitches through eight, Weaver was pulled three outs from a complete game.
"He had a little bit left in him. I think the 102 pitches was good, (and) there's no sense in throwing 115 or 120 this afternoon," manager Mike Scioscia said. "But it's a good sign that he finished strong."
Weaver has gone seven-plus innings in five of his last seven starts.
"My goal is to try and get extended and get out there and stay out there as much as possible," Weaver said.
Weaver has been particularly strong in interleague play this year, with a 2.32 ERA in five starts against the NL.
Like Weaver, Wily Peralta (8-13, 4.51) is coming off a bounce-back performance. After surrendering seven runs in 4 1-3 innings to Cincinnati on Aug. 18, he turned around six days later and held the Reds to one run in five innings of a 6-3 loss on Saturday.
"For not having his command, he did a nice job," Roenicke said.
Peralta hasn't been all that efficient of late, requiring 17.5 pitches per inning while going 1-4 with a 5.29 ERA over his last six starts.
That carried into Saturday, when working without his best slider, Peralta needed 103 pitches to make it through five frames.
"It just wasn't there," Peralta said. "But that's going to happen. When those things happen, you have to battle and do your best."
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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