The Oakland Athletics try to continue their recent home mastery on Tuesday, as they welcome the Chicago Cubs to O.co Coliseum for the first time in the start of a three-game interleague series.
Oakland took two of three at home from the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend and has won 16 of its last 19 games in front of its fans. Josh Donaldson homered and doubled on Sunday to help the A's to 7-5 triumph in Sunday's rubber match.
Over his last six home games Donaldson has gone 10-for-21 with four home runs, three doubles and eight RBI. He also leads the team with a .316 average and 53 RBI.
"If someone wants to say that I'm having an All-Star year so far, that's fine," said Donaldson. "I've said it a hundred times, if I just focus on helping our team win and try to do something productive for the team, the individual stuff is going to take care of itself."
As good as Donaldson has been, the main reason why Oakland enters this series just a half-game off the pace of the American League West-leading Texas Rangers has been its starting pitchers, which are 21-6 with a 3.01 ERA since May 17.
Hoping to continue that trend for the A's on Tuesday will be righty A.J. Griffin, who is coming off a brilliant outing his last time out. Griffin tossed a two-hit shutout to beat the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, as he improved to 6-6 to go along with a 3.56 ERA.
Griffin has never faced the Cubs, who had been scheduled to counter with righty Scott Feldman, but he was shipped to Baltimore for reliever Pedro Strop and right-hander Jake Arrieta earlier in the day.
Instead it will likely be lefty Chris Rusin going for the Cubs. Rusin appeared in seven games for the Cubs last season and was 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA in seven starts.
Chicago has played well of late and enters this series on the heels of taking two of three from the Seattle Mariners. The Cubs won the final two games of that set and have won four of their last five overall.
However, Chicago is still 10 games under .500 and an almost insurmountable 15 1/2 games back in the National League Central.
Chicago took two of three from the A's the last time these teams met back in 2010.