The Los Angeles Angels have the AL's best record over the last six weeks, but still have ground to make up in the West.
The Cleveland Indians are another second-place club, but are playing more like cellar dwellers entering their series with the visiting Angels that starts Monday night.
With a 9-3 win over Baltimore on Sunday, Los Angeles (55-47) improved to 24-11 in its last 35, but division-leading Texas has been almost equally successful over that same stretch.
A few more strong performances at the plate may help the Angels catch up. Their 13 hits in Sunday's game were their most since June 28, and 19-year-old Mike Trout - the youngest player in the majors - had one of those with his first major league homer during a five-run eighth inning.
"Mike has been doing something every game. You have keep pinching yourself and telling yourself he's 19," manager Mike Scioscia said.
While Scioscia's hitters led the way in the finale, Los Angeles' pitchers shined throughout the opening series of a 10-game road trip. The Angels posted a 2.42 ERA over the three games against the Orioles and have a 2.59 ERA while winning four of six against the Indians this season.
Probable Monday starter Dan Haren (10-6, 3.10 ERA) has gone 1-0 with a 1.15 ERA in two matchups with Cleveland in 2011, including his first career one-hitter in Anaheim on April 12.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his last four starts against Cleveland, which is batting .189 with eight runs scored during a four-game losing streak.
The Indians (51-48) managed five hits for the second straight game Sunday and Ezequiel Carrera committed a key two-run error in a 4-2 defeat to the White Sox. The loss put the former AL Central leaders just 2 1/2 games in front of third-place Chicago.
With another defeat, the Indians would match their longest skid this season, set June 2-6.
"When you're not scoring runs, you can't be giving outs away. That was the case (Sunday)," said manager Manny Acta, whose team matched a season high with three errors. "We need to win a ballgame. That's the bottom line."
Acta's team likely will win if it can get Haren to duplicate his last outing. The right-hander gave up a season-high seven runs over 4 1-3 innings Wednesday against Texas but avoided a second straight loss as the Angels rallied from a five-run deficit for a 9-8 triumph.
Haren will be opposed by Fausto Carmona (5-10, 5.63), who pitched better than his overall record in his return from a strained right quad last Monday. The right-hander gave up two runs over six innings of a 6-3 win that completed a doubleheader sweep in Minnesota.
The Indians have not won since.
Carmona is a career-worst 0-3 all-time against the Angels despite a 1.79 ERA in nine appearances. He was on the losing end of Haren's one-hitter and gave up three unearned runs over seven innings of a 6-5 defeat May 8 in Anaheim.
Haren also opposed Carmona in that game, but did not get a decision after allowing two runs over 6 2-3 innings and striking out a season-high 10.