Even though the Angels have baseball's best offense in terms of runs scored, their starting pitchers will still have to perform well if they're going to be playing in the postseason.
Hector Santiago is trying to prove he's a starter who manager Mike Scioscia can count on for the pennant race, and he'll get a chance in Tuesday's game against Miguel Gonzalez and the first-place Orioles in Anaheim.
Santiago lost his rotation spot in May after Los Angeles lost all seven of his starts, but he's performed well since being given a second chance, and he could be the key in the Angels' quest for the American League West title as the squad seeks some stability at the back of its rotation.
In his last appearance, Santiago proved he can still come out of the bullpen and perform in high-leverage situations. The lefty earned the win in Angels' 16-inning, 3-2 victory over Seattle on Friday despite battling flu-like symptoms, pitching 2 2/3 innings and allowing just two hits and no walks with two strikeouts.
"I saw it go seven [innings], eight, nine, tie game, 10, 11 and we had one guy left in the bullpen," Santiago said. "So you start to get mentally into it, but it's still hard to just click it in."
The Angels have also won Santiago's last three starts. His last one came on July 10, when Santiago gave up three earned runs in six innings to earn his first win of the season.
Santiago anticipated that the 12-day layoff between Major League starts might have presented a problem, but his unexpected relief foray prevented that.
"I was actually kind of happy I got in that game," Santiago said. "I didn't want too many days off."
Gonzalez will have to shake off the rust because his last Major League outing came on July 11 before the All-Star break. (He made a Triple-A start to stay fresh on Thursday.) He's has been excellent in his last two outings, though, which were his longest of 2014, in both innings and pitches.
Facing the Red Sox and Yankees in back-to-back starts, Gonzalez lasted eight innings and gave up two runs against both AL East rivals.
A fly-ball pitcher, Gonzalez has given up eight homers in five starts since returning from the disabled list on June 17, but he still has a 3.82 ERA during that span.
Orioles: Another roster move coming after Clevenger optioned
With Baltimore needing a roster spot for Gonzalez, who was sent down to make a start with Triple-A Norfolk over the All-Star break, they're expected to send down a reliever on Tuesday.
But it's unclear who that will be. Manager Buck Showalter said the team was monitoring an injury to a pitcher on Monday, and if that turned up OK, they would likely option a bullpen arm to make room for Gonzalez.
When the Orioles needed a spot for Monday starter Bud Norris, they optioned catcher Steve Clevenger to Norfolk.
Clevenger was recalled on July 11 to give the team an extra bench player, since they wouldn't need a fifth starter for nearly two weeks. Clevenger ended his latest stint in the big leagues having recorded just one at-bat in two late appearances as a defensive replacement.
Angels: Aybar misses Monday but ready for return
Erick Aybar was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game on Monday - and he's ready to get back in. The All-Star shortstop has had a sore right groin since Friday night, when he was pulled for a pinch-runner after reaching first base on a ninth-inning single against the Mariners.
Aybar did some light agility drills on the field on Monday before taking batting practice. The 30-year-old said the injury had bothered him while batting from the right side of the plate, but expects to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday and was expected to be available off the bench on Monday.
"I'm good now, from both sides," Aybar said. "I'll be ready to go tomorrow. They told me one more day, and then [Tuesday] I'll [return to the starting lineup]."
• Of Mike Trout's 23 home runs, 17 have tied the game or given the Angels the lead.
• Nelson Cruz is one RBI from recording his sixth straight season with at least 20 home runs and 75 RBIs.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.