There's something about the final days of June that appeal to the Los Angeles Angels.
Los Angeles is on its seventh win streak of at least four games in the latter part of the month since 2005, and it will go for a seventh straight victory Friday night when it visits a Kansas City Royals team that's stumbling after its best stretch of the season.
The Angels (44-33) completed a 6-0 homestand with Thursday's 6-4 win over Minnesota, improving to 13-5 in the last 18 games. They haven't won seven in a row since June 25-July 2 of last season - no surprise given their penchant for getting hot this time of year.
In the last 10 seasons, Los Angeles has win streaks of eight (2005), four (2007), five (2008), six (2009), four (2012), six (2013) and six (2014) once the calendar hit June 20.
The Angels began their current run on that exact date.
"We've been playing really good the past couple of weeks," slugger Albert Pujols said. "You just need to take advantage of a stretch."
Los Angeles has a solid chance of picking up another win with rookie Matt Shoemaker on the mound. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 3.00 ERA in seven starts after allowing one run in 7 2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory over Texas on Sunday.
"He may be 10 miles an hour short (of Nolan Ryan), but he goes out with that attitude, with that makeup," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB's official website. "He goes out with the idea of a gunslinger. 'I'm going to make my pitches and I'm very, very comfortable in what I need to do out there on the mound.'"
Shoemaker (5-1, 3.42 ERA) gave up three runs over five innings in a 7-4, 13-inning defeat to visiting Kansas City on May 24. That's the only time the Angels have lost when Shoemaker has started.
The Royals went on to lose eight of 13 following that victory, but they turned things around and won 10 in a row to move into first place in the AL Central. Another poor stretch, though, has them again hovering around .500.
Kansas City (40-38) fell for the sixth time in seven contests since the 10-game run with Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Dodgers, who went ahead when Wade Davis hit a batter with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth.
"They all sting a little, some a little bit worse than others, but they all sting," manager Ned Yost said.
Jason Vargas (7-3, 3.16) will make his second start of the season against the Angels after pitching for them last year. He didn't receive a decision May 25 after allowing one run and three hits while walking five over 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 loss.
That began a six-start stretch for the left-hander in which he's gone 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA. The loss came Saturday at home against Seattle when Vargas got the first two outs in the ninth before giving up a double, an infield single and the go-ahead hit.
He allowed two runs and 10 hits over 8 2-3 innings on a hot and humid night in Kansas City, and Friday's forecast calls for more of the same.
"I don't think there's any other way around it," Vargas said. "I don't think you can feel sorry for yourself out there just because it's hot. You know what you signed up for. You know what Kansas City summers are like."
The Angels have won six of seven in this series and five in a row in Kansas City.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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