(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of AL West rivals square off for the first time this season Monday night, as the LA Angels of Anaheim open a four-game series versus the Oakland Athletics at the Big A.
The Angels have won seven of the last eight games against Oakland and took the 2014 series by a 10-9 count, winning seven of the 10 matchups at home. The Angels have prevailed in seven of the last eight games versus the A's as the host.
Angels star center fielder Mike Trout owns five home runs and 13 RBI over the last 16 games versus the Athletics.
Trout, though, went 0-for-4 in Sunday's 4-3 loss against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park and the Halos dropped two of three in the Lone Star State. C.J. Cron hit a two-run homer and Albert Pujols clubbed a solo shot in defeat.
Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards made his season debut and was saddled with the loss for allowing four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in five innings of work. He walked four and struck out four, and started the season on the disabled list after rupturing the patellar tendon in his left knee last August.
"Obviously, I have some things I have to tighten up as far as the walks go," Richards told the club's website, "but it wasn't a terrible first outing."
Anaheim, which is 0-3 at home this season and will also host Texas for three games, hopes Matt Shoemaker can stay unbeaten when he takes the mound Monday. Shoemaker has won both of his starts against Seattle and Texas, and last toed the rubber on April 13 in a 6-3 win over the Rangers. He allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking one.
Shoemaker gave up three runs in six innings of a 5-3 defeat at Seattle on April 8 and recorded five K's and no walks. The right-hander has made two career appearances (1 start) against Oakland and is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA across 7 1/3 innings.
The Athletics are 3-3 on a 10-game road trip and opened the journey with two wins in three tries against Houston. They then lost two of three games in Kansas City this weekend and sustained a 4-2 setback on Sunday.
Oakland was ahead, 2-1, until the Royals plated three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 4-2 verdict. Lorenzo Cain stroked an RBI double off Eric O'Flaherty and later scored on Kendrys Morales' two-run double. O'Flaherty took the loss and starter Scott Kazmir allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings with five K's and one walk.
The eighth inning was a heated one and five Royals were ejected, including reliever Kelvin Herrera, who fired a 100-mph pitch behind A's third baseman Brett Lawrie. Herrera was tossed and pointed his index finger toward his head, a gesture he said meant, "Think about it."
Lawrie wasn't buying it.
"That's what got me hot. That's what got me mad. You don't throw behind someone and then walk away, when you throw 100 mph, and say, 'The next time I face you, I'm gonna hit you in the head.' That's (garbage). That's some (garbage), and he needs to pay for that. That ain't OK. This is a game. This isn't going up there and trying to hurt people. This guy doesn't throw 85 mph. He throws 100."
Lawrie slid hard into the leg of Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar on Friday and the infielder needed assistance to get off the field. Several coaches and Royals manager Ned Yost were ejected as well on Sunday.
Kazmir got tempers flaring when he beaned Cain in the first inning, prompting a warning to both sides.
"It wasn't intentional," Kazmir said. "I think anyone who has a feel for the game, they would know that it's not intentional. I don't think anyone tries to throw at someone's toe or whatever. I tried to throw a fastball in, tried to throw it hard and got a little more on it because he's quick inside, and I just pulled it. That's all it was."
Kendall Graveman gets the nod for the A's Monday and he is 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in two starts. Graveman was tagged for eight runs -- seven earned -- in only 3 1/3 innings of a 10-1 loss to Texas on April 9 in his Oakland debut. He rebounded in last Tuesday's 4-0 victory at the Astros, charged with four hits over 5 1/3 shutout innings for his first major league win.
Graveman, a right-hander, has never faced the Angels.