So it begins. The two teams poised to battle to the metaphorical death for the AL West crown finally get to meet again for the first time in over two months.
With this series, the Angels and A’s kick off the first three games of the ten they have left against each other. That’s ten matchups in their remaining 35 games, so they better get used to the sight of each other. Actually, I hope they don’t get used to each. I hope they grow to loath the sight of each other. This figures to be a good race down the stretch and it can only get better if these teams inject a bit more bad blood into the rivalry.
LAST TIME ON ANGELS VS. ATHLETICS…
This has not been a good year for the Angels when facing the A’s. They’ve squared off nine times and come out the victor just three times. All of those games came before the A’s overhauled their rotation and during a time in which Garrett Richards had two functioning knees. Of course, in natural Angels-Athletics fashion, four of the games were decided by just one run.
GHOST OF ANGELS PAST
Scott Kazmir is still a name that inspires a lot of bad feelings around the Angelsphere. That fateful trade will always be one of the larger blemishes on Tony Reagins’ well-blemished resume. When Kazmir flamed out, it was bad enough. Then he had the audacity to actually rehabilitate his career and return in 2013 as a legitimate All-Star caliber pitcher. How dare he?!
The only small consolation that Kazmir has provided is that the lone time he has faced the Halos since his resurgence was a start where he got pounded and only managed to last three innings. Ah, feels like old times!
FRIDAY, 8/22: Hector Santiago vs. Sonny Gray
In his brief history against Oakland, Santiago has actually been pretty terrific against the A’s. He’s started against them twice this year and allowed just one run and two walks over 13 innings. That includes a start he made back in April when he was a total mess.
There isn’t much history here, but the Halos do have mild success against Gray. They faced him once earlier in the year and lost, but Gray wasn’t all that sharp in the outing.
SATURDAY, 8/23: C.J. Wilson vs. Jon Lester
Wilson is still a bit of a mess himself, but he has an excellent track record against Oakland. Jonny Gomes is pretty much the only Athletic with even a respectable line against Wilson. He’s somehow managed to miss the A’s thus far this year though, which is probably good because it means he hasn’t had a chance to rile them up by making more disparaging comments about their ballpark.
This will be the first time the Angels face Lester as an Athletic. That’s more novelty than a good thing because they haven’t had great success against him. Hamilton can actually hold his own, surprisingly, but Kendrick has been exceptionally inept.
SUNDAY, 8/24: Jered Weaver vs. Scott Kazmir
In general, Weaver has been strong against Oakland. However, he has a weird set of A’s that have succeeded against him: Sogard, Callaspo, Vogt and Fuld. Not exactly a Murderer’s Row. I guess that doesn’t really matter though because Weaver has gotten lit up twice by Oakland already this year.
Somehow the one Angel Kazmir has faced the most is John McDonald. Nobody cares about that. The only other Angel he has any kind of track record against is Hamilton, who he has held in check. I imagine many of those PAs came when Kazmir was awful, so this might be a good game to let Josh rest up.
I think the rush of pride and adrenaline that helped the Angels rise up to sweep the Red Sox is going to come crashing down for this series, leading to the Angels leaving Oakland with just one win. On the bright side, it will come at the expense of Scott Kazmir.
UNOFFICIAL PREDICTION (so don’t hold me to it)
I’m not sure how, but John McDonald will get a base hit in this series.