OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics have scheduled a fireworks show following their series opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday night.
Given the recent forms of Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker and A's righty Kendall Graveman, the show might start earlier than planned.
As the San Francisco Bay Area awaits the return of Tim Lincecum as the Angels' starter Saturday, the series opener figures to serve as virtual batting practice for the California rivals.
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First off, both teams come in swinging the bats well.
The Angels totaled 19 runs in winning two of three from the Minnesota Twins earlier this week, a series that they capped with a 10-2 romp.
The A's, meanwhile, were nearly no-hit by Texas Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis on Thursday afternoon. But they'd crushed the ball in their previous four games, totaling 31 runs on 50 hits.
Then there's Friday's scheduled pitchers.
Shoemaker has struggled on the road since April 30, having been lit up for 23 hits and 14 runs in 15 innings.
His most recent road start was the most encouraging of the three. He pitched into the eighth inning on June 6 against the New York Yankees, limiting them to four runs mostly on the strength of a no-walk effort.
He did, however, allow two home runs among eight hits, the fifth and sixth homers he's allowed in his five road starts.
Shoemaker rebounded from that to throw eight shutout innings on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians. But that was at home, where his ERA (4.43) is significantly better than his road mark (5.27).
Even last weekend's effort didn't turn out well for Shoemaker. He left with a 3-0 lead, only to see Angels closer Huston Street blow it in the top of the ninth.
The Angels rallied to win it in the bottom of the ninth, but everyone left the stadium feeling the club owed its starting pitcher more than just a team win.
"That's a shame for Matt," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters after the game. "You can't pitch a better ballgame."
Added Street: "I feel bad for Matt Shoemaker. He's the one who deserved to win."
It was an all-around bad night for the right-hander, whose streak of 49 consecutive strikeouts without issuing a walk ended in the seventh inning.
Shoemaker has won twice on the road this season, including 5-1 at Oakland on April 13. That was so long ago, he actually walked three in the game, the same number he's issued in his last six starts combined.
The A's counter with Graveman, who's been less-than-stellar no matter where he's pitched this season.
His last five outings have been especially generous to the opponent, having allowed 35 hits and 11 walks in 24 1/3 innings.
Like Shoemaker, Graveman can look back on an April start against the Angels for inspiration. He held the Angels to one run on four hits over six innings on April 12 in a game the A's went on to lose 5-4.
The thought of Shoemaker-Graveman wasn't nearly as exciting to A's manager Bob Melvin on Thursday as Lincecum's pending season debut.
"That'll be kind of cool," the former Arizona Diamondbacks manager said, fast-forwarding to Saturday. "When he was in his prime, he was one of those guys when you saw the probables coming up, you'd prefer not to be one of them. He's quite a show."