The weekend couldn't have gone better for the Oakland Athletics. They'll try to inch closer to the their second straight AL West title on Monday night in the first of three straight meetings with the LA Angels of Anaheim.
Oakland pushed its winning streak to five straight with a three-game sweep of Texas over the weekend. That moved the A's 6 1/2 games ahead of the Rangers for first place in the division, giving them a magic number of eight to clinch the AL West crown.
The Athletics finished off the sweep with a 5-1 victory on Sunday despite outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and starter Jarrod Parker being scratched before the game.
Cespedes is battling right shoulder soreness and is expected to have an MRI on Monday, while Parker was unable to go due to illness.
Tommy Milone stepped in and hurled five innings of one-run ball and was backed by homers from Josh Reddick, Chris Young and Josh Donaldson.
"We have a good lead but...we don't want to get too comfortable," said Donaldson following Oakland's eighth victory in nine games.
The A's turn to rookie Sonny Gray tonight and he has gone 3-3 with a 2.63 earned run average in nine games this year, including seven starts. He has given up more than two earned runs in just one of those starts while posting a 1.83 ERA over his last three.
The right-handed Gray is coming off an 18-3 win over Minnesota. He gave up two runs on four hits and three walks over five innings, striking out seven for a third start in a row.
Gray, 23, will make his first start versus the Angels, but did face them in relief on July 19, hurling two scoreless innings.
Though a disappointing five games under .500, the Angels have won five of their last six and secured a series victory over the Houston Astros with Sunday's 2-1 win.
Josh Hamilton and Andrew Romine each drove in a run, while Jerome Williams earned his third straight win after yielding one run over seven innings of work. His lone mistake was a game-tying solo homer in the fourth inning.
"I probably threw three balls up in the zone, two by design, one by accident," Williams said. "That one by accident was a homer."
C.J. Wilson has been a bright spot this year for the Angels and makes his 31st start of the campaign. He is 16-6 with a 3.44 ERA and has not lost since July 5.
The left-hander won his third straight start and eighth consecutive decision with Wednesday's 5-4 win over Toronto. Wilson logged seven innings and gave up four runs -- three earned -- on four hits and four walks, fanning six.
"Of all the things we've talked about this year that haven't worked out, C.J. is on the other side of that ledger," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's having just a terrific season, pitching deep into games. He's going to be 200- plus innings again. Every stat you look at is terrific for him."
Wilson's current undefeated streak includes back-to-back wins over Oakland on July 20 and 25. The 32-year-old allowed three runs over 15 1/3 innings while fanning 14, moving to 10-7 with a 3.43 ERA in 45 career meetings with the A's, including 16 starts.
The Athletics have won nine of 13 versus the Angels this season.