Angels looking to change luck vs. Zito

Angels looking to change luck vs. Zito

ANAHEIM -- For many players, Interleague play is a time for adjustments, competing in different stadiums, facing new pitchers.

However that will not be the case for the Angels when they travel to San Francisco to begin a three-game series on Monday against the Giants and lefty Barry Zito.

Many Angels know Zito well, who pitched for the American League West rival Athletics for seven years, from 2000-06.

"He is a really smart pitcher," third baseman Chone Figgins said. "He knows how he wants to pitch you every time you come up."

Zito has faced the Angels 28 times in his career, second only to the Rangers at 30. In those 28 starts, Zito is 12-9 with a 3.55 ERA.

The last time Zito faced the Angels was September 2006, going six innings and giving up one earned run, yet he got the loss. This year, Zito is 3-6 with a 4.09 ERA.

Angel hitters have had trouble with Zito in the past, most notably Figgins, who in 42 at-bats is batting .190 with eight hits and 10 strikeouts.

With Zito's curveball, at times said to be the best in baseball, and a good changeup mixed into counts, Zito continues to keep hitters off balance.

"Being a veteran pitcher makes him know how to mix pitches to get guys out," Figgins said.

Vladimir Guerrero has also had trouble against Zito, batting .212 with one home run and three RBIs in 33 at-bats.

When Zito faces the Angels on Monday, he will also have location on his side. AT&T Park, known for its cold temperature and gusty winds because of its placement along the San Francisco Bay, has proven to be an adjustment for both pitchers and hitters who aren't familiar with the surroundings.

This is also the second road trip of the month for the Angels, who in June are on the road for 17 of their 26 games.

"It's crazy, it seems like we are on a month long road trip," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The key though is not where you are playing, but how you are playing and that is what we are trying to focus on right now."

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP John Lackey (1-2, 6.61 ERA)
After three consecutive solid outings, Lackey took a backward step against the Rays on Wednesday under the big top in Florida. He made it through five innings and 98 pitches, yielding 11 hits and two walks for nine runs (eight earned) while striking out two men. One of the runs scored on a wild pitch, indicative of Lackey's problems finding the strike zone (only 58 times). Lackey, who thoroughly enjoys Interleague Play, has faced the Giants once in the regular season, taking a loss even though he allowed only one earned run in seven innings in San Francisco.

SF: LHP Barry Zito (3-6, 4.09 ERA)
Zito gained plenty of experience facing the Angels during his American League career with Oakland (2000-06). He's 12-9 with a 3.55 ERA in 28 starts against them -- his most appearances against any club except Texas (30). In fact, Zito made his Major League debut against the Angels on July 22, 2000. He allowed one run in five innings and earned the decision in a 10-3 A's victory. Zito entered his most recent start last Wednesday at Arizona having received the lowest run support among National League starters, but the Giants supplied him with a veritable cornucopia of runs -- five -- in a 5-4 victory.

Tidbits
Figgins has hit safely in 28 of his past 30 games and Torii Hunter is riding an eight-game hitting streak going into San Francisco. ... Bobby Abreu sat out Sunday's series finale against the Padres after starting 55 of the Angels' 61 games... Right-hander Rafael Rodriguez pitched the final two scoreless innings for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, with one hit to record his second save.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-W

On radio
• KLAA 830, KFWB, KWKW 1330 (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Angels (Ervin Santana, 1-3, 7.47) at Giants (Jonathan Sanchez, 2-6, 4.84), 7:15 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Angels (Matt Palmer, 6-0, 4.11) at Giants (Tim Lincecum, 6-1, 2.66), 12:45 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Off-day

Quinn Roberts is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.