Kansas City (30-46) at LA Angels (49-27)
Thanks to their remarkable play at home, the Los Angeles Angels have amassed the most wins in the majors. The Kansas City Royals are already aware of the difficulties of beating the Angels, regardless of where they're playing.
Los Angeles looks to continue its surge in Monday's series opener against the lowly Royals as staff ace John Lackey tries to bounce back from his worst outing of the season.
The Angels (49-27) improved to a major league-best 16-5 in June with Sunday's 4-3 win over Pittsburgh, as Erick Aybar singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Los Angeles has won 17 of 21 at Angel Stadium since May 9, and leads the majors with a 29-10 home record.
This three-game series is the Royals' only trip of the season to Angel Stadium, where they have lost 22 of 29 games since the start of the 2001 season.
The Angels split a four-game series at Kansas City (30-46) April 30-May 3, but have still won 29 of their last 39 against the Royals since 2003.
Lackey (10-4, 2.96 ERA) pitched well against the Royals on April 30, giving up one run and eight hits with seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-1 victory. He is 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA in six career starts against Kansas City.
Lackey, who is tied with Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia for the second-most wins in the majors, has gone 6-1 in his last seven starts, but struggled his last time out.
The right-hander allowed six runs, eight hits and four walks, and needed 103 pitches to go just a season-low 4 2-3 innings last Monday against Houston. Despite his poor performance, the red-hot Angels rallied from five runs down to win 10-9.
Lackey was scheduled to pitch Sunday, but shoulder tendinitis caused him to be pushed back a day. The Angels' opening day starter has been stellar when pitching on six days' rest this season, winning both of his starts while allowing four runs - two earned - in 12 innings.
The Angels hope the extra rest will also help him with his recent struggles at home. Lackey opened the season 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his first three starts at Angel Stadium, but is just 1-2 with a 5.33 ERA in his last four starts there.
The Royals have lost eight of their last 11 road games, but are coming off a 4-3 victory at NL Central-leading Milwaukee on Sunday.
Kansas City won on a bases-loaded walk in the 11th inning, and rallied from a 2-1 deficit after seven innings for just its third victory in 39 games when trailing after seven.
"It was good to see how we came back," center fielder David DeJesus said. "We didn't feel we were out of the game."
John Thomson makes his season debut on Monday when he takes the mound for the Royals.
With Scott Elarton being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right foot sprain, Kansas City signed Thomson to a one-year contract Friday, two days after he was released by Toronto.
The right-hander went 2-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 18 games - 15 starts - last season with Atlanta, and was 2-4 with a 4.58 ERA in seven minor-league starts this season.
Thomson hasn't faced the Angels since 2003, and is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA in five career starts against them.