The two teams with the best records in the American League will open a three-game series on Tuesday when the Los Angeles Angels host the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium.
The Angels (13-3) have won seven straight for the first time since Sept. 22-29, 2015, and are off to their best 16-game start in franchise history.
The Red Sox (13-2) have won 13 of their past 14 for the best start in their 118-year history.
Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale told MLB.com after pitching five innings in a 13-2 victory against the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Sunday that the atmosphere in the clubhouse is enjoyable.
“You can’t beat it,” he said. “It’s coming in, having fun, expecting to win every single day, coming into the clubhouse after the game and the music is playing. You can’t beat that. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re going to stay on it and keep doing what we’ve got to do to maintain that.”
The series opener added even more appeal when the series finale between the Angels and Kansas City Royals was postponed on Sunday because of freezing temperatures in Kansas City. Japanese rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani (2-0, 2.08 ERA) was scheduled to start on the mound on Sunday, but instead will face off against Boston left-hander David Price (1-1, 2.40) on Tuesday.
Ohtani, who also serves as a part-time designated hitter, took a perfect game into the seventh inning in his last start April 8 against the visiting Oakland A’s. He exited after allowing one hit and one walk in the seventh inning. He finished with 12 strikeouts in the 6-1 victory.
“That’s as good a game as you could ever see pitched,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters after the game.
The Angels sold 44,742 tickets for Ohtani’s last start on the mound, the most for any regular-season day game since Angel Stadium was downsized 20 years ago.
The Angels currently lead the majors in several offensive categories, including batting average (.291), home runs (26) and OPS (.825).
They’ll be up against a starting pitching staff for the Red Sox that’s a combined 9-1 with the best ERA in the majors at 2.06.
Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young winner and two-time AL ERA leader, hasn’t had as much success against the Angels as he’s had against other teams, particularly at Angel Stadium’
He’s 5-7 in his career against Los Angeles with a 3.53 ERA. Of the 16 major league teams Price has made at least five starts against, only the Angels and Texas Rangers (5-4) have a winning record against him. Price is 4-5 in 10 career starts at Angel Stadium with a 3.67 ERA.
Price left his last start after one inning on Wednesday because of numbness in his pitching hand. He had allowed four runs and three hits to the New York Yankees, who eventually won 10-7, Boston’s only loss since Opening Day.
“I told (manager Alex Cora) I was fine for Monday, or I could come back on Saturday or Sunday, go sit in the pen if needed,” Price told WEEI on Friday. “I told him I’d go out there any one. He thought Tuesday would be better weather-wise.”
The Red Sox were scheduled to host the Orioles on Monday at Fenway Park, but the game was postponed on Sunday because extended periods of sustained rain were forecasted throughout the day and into the evening.