Well, well, well. Who would’ve thought we would be here? Even the most optimistic of Angels fans certainly wouldn’t have anticipated the Angels and A’s duking it out for first place in the AL West at the end of May. But that’s exactly what they are going to do.
This is obviously just one battle in a season-long war, but considering the struggles of the Halos over the last few years, stealing first place from Oakland, even if just for a day, would be a major moral victory. You know, if you are into that sort of thing.
These division rivals met once this season back in mid-April, when everyone was still pretty nervous about whether or not the Angels were any good and nobody had started fretting over Mike Trout‘s “slump.” Ah, those were good times. Anyway, Oakland took two of three because Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri were busy taking turns blowing saves. Let’s hope things go a little better this time around.
FRIDAY, 5/30: Garrett Richards vs. Drew Pomeranz
Richards hasn’t had much luck with the A’s. He had a middling start against them back in April in which Jed Lowrie and Craig Gentry gave him all sorts of trouble. Historically, his bigger problem has been Brandon Moss. The only consolation is that Garrett has been able to hold notorious Angel-killer John Jason in check.
Pomeranz has almost no history against the Angels. However, you might remember him as the guy who gave up the walk-off homer to Chris Iannetta in the Angels’ lone win from the first series. Aside from that, John McDonald has faced him more than anyone and he doesn’t really count. That was all when Pomeranz was working in relief though, now he’s starting. He isn’t fully stretched out yet, having maxed out at 90 pitches in his four starts, but he has also only allowed runs in one of those starts. Oakland magic does it again.
SATURDAY, 5/31: Tyler Skaggs vs. Tommy Milone
Skaggs has just the one start against Oakland earlier in this year. He was a bit shaky in that one, but managed to keep the Angels in the game. His biggest mistake was getting taken deep by Brandon Moss. Otherwise, he was able to limit the damage. He’ll need to be even better than that this time out.
Milone is a guy the Angels hit hard in the past and should hit hard again. Of course, I said that last time and Milone put up six solid innings. Now he gets to face the Halos at home, where he has been significantly better in his career.
SUNDAY, 6/1: Jered Weaver vs. Sonny Gray
Weaver’s numbers against the A’s are staggering, in a good way. He has held them to a cumulative .176/.226/.227 slash line, 17.97% K-rate, not allowed a single homer and Craig Gentry, in just three plate appearances, is the only one with an OPS over .700. Having said all that, watch Moss and Cespedes take him deep back-to-back in the first inning.
Gray has very little history against the Angels, but the little there is has been pretty good. The more important thing to know is that Gray has been outstanding this year. He has thrown a quality start each time out, up until his last outing and he wasn’t even that bad in that one.
I’m afraid the Angels are going to lose this battle. Not badly, just two out of three games, but lose nonetheless. I just think that the Oakland pitching has been too good and the Angel offense isn’t quite firing on all cylinders right now. They will live to fight another day though.
UNOFFICIAL PREDICTION (so don’t hold me to it)
After going to extras twice in their previous series, the A’s and Angels will avoid any “free baseball” this time around.