American League Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, September 12th (All times eastern)
Oakland Athletics (81-60) at LA Angels of Anaheim (77-65), 10:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - A.J. Griffin (5-0, 2.21) LA Angels - Ervin Santana (8-11, 5.21)
(Sports Network) - Determined to make their first postseason appearance since 2006, the Oakland Athletics are catching fire at the right time.
The wild card-leading Athletics go for a series win over the LA Angels of Anaheim Wednesday in the continuation of a four-game set from the Big A.
Oakland and the New York Yankees currently occupy the final two spots in the American League playoff race, with the Tampa Bay Rays two games off the lead and the Angels just 2 1/2 games back.
The A's padded their lead with Tuesday's 6-5 victory -- their 11th in a row on the road -- behind home runs from Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss. Taking the place of injured starter Brandon McCarthy (head), Daniel Straily struck out eight and allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings for the win.
"In the middle of the third, Straily got really good," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He worked really hard and almost got us a full seven."
The A's have homered in 16 of their last 17 games and are unbeaten in the first five games of a seven-game road trip. They still sit three games behind the Texas Rangers for the AL West lead and are on the longest road winning streak since an 11-game run from April 9-26, 1981. Oakland had a club-best 12- game road winning streak from July 31-Aug. 15, 1971.
Oakland, which is 14-3 since Aug. 24 and 21 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2006 season at 93-69, hopes rookie A.J. Griffin can remain undefeated on the season when he takes the mound Wednesday. Griffin has won back-to-back starts and is 5-0 with a 2.21 earned run average in 10 trips to the mound.
Griffin fanned seven batters in a 6-1 win at Seattle last Friday and limited the hosts to a run in 5 1/3 frames. He is 3-0 in four road assignments and has never faced the Angels. The right-hander is only the second pitcher in Oakland history to begin his career 5-0 and is the first to do it as a starter.
Jim Nash went 7-0 over his first nine career starts in 1966 and is the only Athletics pitcher to win more than five consecutive decisions to open his career.
Meanwhile, the Angels had won six in a row and 15 of 18 games before opening this series and dropped to 3-2 on a seven-game homestand last night.
Torii Hunter went 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI and Vernon Wells added a two-run shot for the Angels, who also got three hits from Mike Trout. Albert Pujols has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games, and 27 of his last 45 hits have been for extra bases.
Erick Aybar extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
"We had opportunities," Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "Tonight was one of those nights. We just didn't get it done."
Jerome Williams allowed four runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings in the loss.
Hoping to keep the Halos within striking distance for one of the last two postseason spots in the AL, Ervin Santana gets the nod this evening. Santana has won four of his last five decisions, but did not factor in the outcome of a 3-2 win versus Detroit last Friday, as he struck out 10 and permitted two runs through 6 2/3 innings.
Anaheim is 7-1 in Santana's last eight outings. He is 1-1 in two starts against Oakland this season and an impressive 14-4 with a 2.05 ERA in 25 career games (23 starts) in the series. Santana, though, is 3-6 in 12 home starts in 2012.
The Angels just swept the Athletics in three games last week at the Coliseum, but Oakland is gaining a measure of revenge this time around.
09/12 10:49:24 ET