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BALTIMORE — The resilient Los Angeles Angels can finish a three-game sweep of the struggling Baltimore Orioles on Sunday at Camden Yards.
Los Angeles won the opener 7-1 on Friday and beat the Orioles 6-2 on a sweltering Saturday afternoon.
The Angels entered the series on a six-game losing streak
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, but will leave Baltimore very much alive in the American League wild-card race.
On Saturday, Mike Scioscia managed his 3,000th regular-season game for the Angels, not that he has kept count.
“You don’t think about it,” said Scioscia, who has been with the club since 2000 and is 1,613-1,387 (.538 winning percentage). “It’s 3,000, one game at a time.”
The Orioles have lost seven straight and fell to 0-15 against AL West opponents. Manager Buck Showalter vows the team will keep fighting and try to find bright spots.
“It’s been tougher on our fans and our players. I don’t look at it that way,” said Showalter, whose team has lost 17 of 18 at home. “All things considered, it’s an unbelievable way to do something you love and be able to pay the bills with it.”
Deck McGuire (0-0, 6.08 ERA) will start for the Angels in place of John Lamb, who had an MRI on his left elbow that revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Lamb will undergo UCL reconstruction surgery in Los Angeles.
The Angels have seven starting pitchers on the disabled list.
As a result, they will be leaning on McGuire to help stabilize the rotation. However, he has made only two previous major league starts among his 12 appearances and has never faced Baltimore.
Los Angeles had a positive development with phenom Shohei Ohtani, who hit in a simulated game Saturday at Angel Stadium. Ohtani has a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow. The team is hoping he can avoid Tommy John surgery.
“There definitely be a consensus from the medical staff on how he feels,” Scioscia said. “We’ll see if he has enough velocity to go out there and play.”
Ohtani underwent stem-cell therapy and received a platelet-rich plasma injection to heal a damaged ligament. He was given the OK to begin batting practice Thursday.
Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.20 ERA) is looking to help pull the Orioles from their doldrums. However
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, he lost his last four decisions and has not completed seven innings in any of his last eight starts.
In his last outing, Gausman was solid in earning a no-decision, allowing one run and five hits in six innings of a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners. He was effective managing his pitch count throughout the game.
“That’s huge,” he said. “Kind of seems like that’s what I do every start lately is kind of get in jams the first inning, throw a lot of pitches. It’s always big to kind of bounce back and have a quick inning.”
Gausman is 1-3 with a 5.97 ERA in five starts against the Angels.
Baltimore also received some bad news on the injury front. Reliever Darren O’Day opted to have season-ending surgery on his injured left hamstring. The recovery time is six months, according to Showalter.
O’Day also missed more than a month with a hyperextended elbow. The sidearmer is 0-2 with a 3.60 ERA in 20 games this season. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list Friday.
Showalter said O’Day has not yet finalized the time and place of the procedure.
Stephen Curry has absolutely no concerns about his 3-point touch, so he’s counting on the first one he takes going in.
”I have confidence in myself and my teammates have confidence in me to do what I need to do,” the two-time MVP said Friday. ”Never worry about it because I know how hard I work at it. It’s not a false sense of confidence. I know how hard I work at what I do.”
His teammates and coach also say enough with the panic about Curry already. Kevin Durant doesn’t even want to hear about any shooting struggles: he considers Curry the best shooter on the planet, and so be it if he shows he’s human, too, once in a while. This is after all the same sweet shooter who broke his own NBA record for 3s in a single season by hitting 402 in 2015-16.
”When Steph misses a shot everybody gets up in arms about it. That’s how great he is. So many people expect him to make every single shot. Sometimes it doesn’t happen,” Durant said. ”I knew the next couple days was going to be about Steph struggling to shoot the ball but that’s the last thing I worry about with Steph. I’ve just got so much confidence in him on the offensive side of the basketball.”
Still, Curry has just one 3-pointer in each of the first two games of the Warriors’ Western Conference finals series with the Rockets as the best-of-seven showdown shifts to Oracle Arena for Game 3 on Sunday night notched at 1 game apiece.
He is shooting 15 for 34 overall from the floor, missing 11 of his 13 3-point tries.
”I’ve gone 0 for 11 before shooting 3s, 1 for 8. Whatever the case is, you’re always shooting that next shot with the optimism and the confidence that it’s going in,” Curry said. ”So you can work on stuff in between practices and games and get your rhythm, just seeing the ball go in, work on your mechanics, but never lose confidence in myself ever. And that’ll never change.”
During his extensive shooting work Friday
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, Curry yelled out ”Ahhh!” in frustration a few times. He hollered ”Oh my goodness!” and ”Crazier things have happened!”
Durant just shook his head and noted, ”If you worry about missed 3s with Steph Curry …” then carried on about the Houston defense and how impressed he is that Curry has improvised and taken opportunities to drive to the rim when the Rockets switch out on him in an effort to protect the 3-point line.
Curry referred to his personal shooting coach, Bruce Fraser, as ”sensei,” or teacher. They talk in depth about what kind of workout Curry needs on any given day to feel right with his shot .
Curry understands the scrutiny. Golden State took a 127-105 beating from Chris Paul, James Harden and the Rockets on Wednesday night in Houston.
”It’s something to talk about and we obviously lost so you can try to pinpoint stuff or reasons,” Curry said. ”And obviously I didn’t have to talk to any of y’all to wake up and know I didn’t play well in Game 2. That doesn’t change my outlook on the series or what I need to do. If I don’t shoot the ball well in Game 3 it won’t change a thing about the way I approach the next one. You come to the game with the right intentions, the right approach and more times than not it will work out in your favor.”
Curry feels great physically. He missed nearly six weeks with a sprained left knee he injured March 23 before he came back for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against New Orleans. Coach Steve Kerr believes it’s far tougher to return from an injury during the pressure-packed playoffs, with no time to ease in with games that don’t matter or have near the same magnitude.
”I think Steph’s healthy, he’s moving fine,” Kerr said. ”But this is more rhythm than anything. You come back from six weeks in the regular season, chances are you’re going to have a game where nobody’s focused and the other team’s playing their fourth in five nights and the defense isn’t that tough and you make a bunch of 3s and you just feel good.”
The playoffs, Kerr said, are like facing the best pitcher in the World Series night after night.
Curry is up for the challenge.
”Just waking up every day with optimism and confidence in myself and where I’m at. That’s all I can really kind of speak on,” Curry said. ”There isn’t time to kind of coast or ease your way into it, especially with the intensity and pressure and all that stuff, so you’ve got to be ready.”
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