In order to stem the tide and avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the road-rampant Oakland Athletics, the LA Angels of Anaheim turn to ace Jered Weaver this afternoon in the series finale.
Weaver missed his last start due to a case of right biceps tendinitis and recently threw a bullpen session to test the limb. The AL Cy Young Award candidate previously pitched in a 2-1 loss at Seattle on Sept. 2 and allowed both runs in 5 1/3 innings. He said he felt discomfort all the way back to early August in a four-hit shutout at Oakland.
The right-hander struck out nine batters and did not issue a walk in his team's 4-0 win. Weaver has faced the Athletics three times this season, going 2-0 with a sparkling 0.38 earned run average in 23 2/3 innings, and is 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA in 23 career starts against them.
Weaver has thrown 11 consecutive scoreless innings against the A's.
Ervin Santana can't say that after he gave up two runs -- one earned -- in last night's 4-1 loss. Albert Pujols homered for the first time since Aug. 28 and notched his 30th of the season. He is the only player ever to hit 30 or more homers over his first 12 major league seasons. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx achieved the feat during a point in their career.
Erick Aybar extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Torii Hunter entered the game batting an AL-best .350 since the All-Star break, but went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.
Los Angeles had won six in a row and 15 of 18 games before this series and is 3 1/2 games off the final wild card spot in the American League. The Tampa Bay Rays sit three games off the pace, which is controlled by Oakland.
"For us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on the club's website, "it's very clear: We've been playing really good baseball the last 30 games or so. We need one good inning, one good game to get us back on track and hopefully finish strong."
After Thursday's matinee, the Angels will head to Kansas City for three games.
Oakland will try to close out a perfect seven-game trek and capture a franchise-record 13th consecutive road win today.
Pitching has been tremendous for the Athletics lately and A.J. Griffin continued the method last night with eight shutout innings and six strikeouts. Griffin, who has won twice on this road trip, scattered six hits. Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook each pitched the last inning, with the latter picking up his 14th save.
"I felt pretty good, I had a lot of friends here from San Diego. All four pitches were working tonight," Griffin said.
Griffin made history as well, becoming the first pitcher in club history to open his career 6-0 and the second since 1927 to win six straight decisions to start a career. Jim Nash was 7-0 in his first nine starts in 1966.
"He's off to a decent start, that's probably as good as we've seen him," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He keeps you off-balance, he's got a lot of confidence, he's fun to watch."
Yoenis Cespedes homered and Coco Crisp had two hits and an RBI for the wild card-leading A's, who last won 12 in a row on the road from July 31-Aug. 15, 1971 and have prevailed in 15 of their last 18 games overall.
Oakland sits three games behind the Texas Rangers for the AL West lead and is 22 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2006 season at 93-69. The club will return to the Coliseum this weekend for a three-game series versus the just-as-hot Baltimore Orioles.
Brett Anderson returned from Tommy John surgery late last month and will make his fifth start for the A's, who have won each of his first four outings. Anderson gave up one unearned run in a 6-1 win at Seattle last Saturday and is 4-0 with a 0.69 earned run average (26 innings). He has 19 Ks to three walks so far since his return.
Anderson, a left-hander, has won both of his road starts this season, but is 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA in six career starts against the Angels. Anderson is the first Oakland pitcher to start the season by winning his first four starts since Dave Stewart had six wins in his first six starts in 1990.
The Angels just swept the Athletics in three games last week at the Coliseum.