Kole Calhoun is beginning to perform up to expectations for the Los Angeles Angels, and they will need his offensive production to continue if they hope to get back in the American League playoff race.
Calhoun will likely get another chance to pull the Angels closer when they host the Seattle Mariners in the second contest of their three-game series at Angel Stadium.
Calhoun went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs in the series opener Tuesday night, leading the Los Angeles to a 9-3 victory.
The win pulled Los Angeles (47-45) within 10 games of the Mariners (57-35) for the second wild card from the AL.
Calhoun has five home runs in his past 18 games after hitting one in the first 51, and that came back on Opening Day.
Since returning from the disabled list June 18 because of a right oblique strain, the right fielder is batting .273 with 11 RBIs and 13 runs. Prior to the injury, Calhoun hit .163 in April before tumbling to .103 in June.
"I'm getting there, so it's nice to help the team win," he told FOX Sports West.
Calhoun will likely earn a start against Seattle left-hander Marco Gonzales. Calhoun drove in the only run against Gonzales in a 4-1 loss in Seattle on Thursday.
Gonzales (9-5, 3.64 ERA) went six innings in that game to earn his first career victory against the Angels after four no-decisions. He didn't have total command of his pitches, but has learned how to remain successful on those nights.
"I haven't always been that pitcher," he told MLB.com afterward. "Frankly, being healthy and having the new approach this year has helped with that. The old me probably would have made it through three (innings)tonight and called it a game. I'm very fortunate to have made strides in the right direction in that sense and figure out how to battle when you don't have your best stuff."
He also faced the Angels on May 5 and June 13.
Gonzales will face a Los Angeles offense that delivered 15 hits in the series opener.
"We know we have a good offense, we just have to get going," Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons told FOX Sports West. "We've just got to keep doing what we did (Tuesday) night and we'll be in good shape."
In his second straight outing, Gonzales will be opposed by Angels rookie right-hander Jaime Barria (5-5, 3.39).
Barria will be facing the Mariners for the third time in 29 days and he's 0-2 in those games with a 3.48 ERA, though he pitched relatively well.
Barria, who will turn 22 next week, is seeking his first win since June 1, despite having allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of past six starts.
He'll need to be careful against Seattle right fielder Mitch Haniger, who hit two home runs off Barria in a 6-3 victory June 12, but sat out with a bruised knee with Barria faced off against Gonzales on Thursday.
Haniger learned he was a first-time All Star on Sunday, then hit a three-run homer in the series opener Tuesday. Haniger is hitting .321 in his career against the Angels and his seven home runs are the most against any major league team.