AL West rivals will finish up a three-game series on Sunday afternoon with the Oakland Athletics visiting the Los Angeles Angels. After the Athletics took Friday's opener with a 4-2 win to cash in as a big +174 underdog, the teams will meet again late on Saturday night after the time of publishing. Oakland is still in last place at 17-25, while the Angels hold down second in the division at 25-17.
These teams met last weekend in Oakland, with the Angels winning three of four. The Athletics haven't lost the season series against Los Angeles since 2018, including dominating 15-4 last year.
A's hope to build on strong series openerOakland has enjoyed solid pitching even in a rebuilding season headlined by a strong bullpen and managed to scratch out enough offense to back the staff up on Friday in Anaheim. Jed Lowrie opened the scoring with a solo shot in the first before Seth Brown later launched the go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth, with Kevin Smith's sac fly in the sixth providing insurance.
Paul Blackburn only managed to go 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five. The bullpen allowed no hits the rest of the way, with Sam Moll earning the win and Dany Jimenez nailing down his eighth save. Lowrie was on base three times and scored twice, while Luis Barrera hit a pair of doubles.
“Early on, I didn’t really have a feel for anything,” Blackburn said about his worst outing in what has been a terrific season so far via MLB.com. “I kind of got out of my mechanics a little bit.”
Oakland is only slightly down on the money line for the season while going 20-22 on the run line. Overs are just 15-22-5 for the Athletics, with only three of their last nine games going over the betting total.
It's been a massive struggle for the Oakland offense, which is third from the bottom of the leaderboard at 3.31 runs per game on a .591 OPS that is dead last in baseball. Oakland pitching has tried its best to make up for it with a 3.79 collective ERA including a mark of 3.45 from the bullpen, 10th-best in the league.
Barrera has made an impact in just 12 games after getting called up, batting .323/.371/.484 with a homer and five RBI. Sheldon Neuse has also been solid, posting a .694 OPS with two homers, 15 RBI and 15 runs scored.
Cole Irvin is expected to be activated off the IL in his first action since April 30, when he tossed six innings of one-run ball against the Cleveland Guardians allowing six hits and two walks while striking out four. The 28-year-old has made five starts this season, going 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA across 27.2 innings while also missing time due to a shoulder injury.
Catcher Stephen Vogt (sprained knee), Skye Bolt (strained oblique), and Stephen Piscotty (strained calf) are on the IL. Starting pitcher Daulton Jeffries recently went down with thoracic outlet syndrome, while Brent Honeywell Jr. is dealing with a stress reaction in his elbow. Reliever Deolis Garcia is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Angels hope to break four-game losing streakWhile it's generally been a fantastic start for the Angels, they have hit a skid this week with four straight losses, with the offense getting slowed down on Friday night in Oakland. Anthony Rendon tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the first before Mike Trout's RBI double gave the Angels the lead in the third, but that would be it for an offense that had six total hits for the night.
Rookie Chase Silseth went 4.1 innings in his second career start, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six to take the loss. Rendon had a multi-hit game, while Taylor Ward doubled and scored before leaving with an injury, although it appears he will be okay.
"He threw the ball well again,” manager Joe Maddon said via MLB.com. “The home run got him at the end. A couple of them did. But I liked the aggressive nature and his stuff. He's very confident. Seeing them repeatedly in the short amount of time probably helped them, but I thought he attacked and pitched really well."
The Angels remain up a solid amount on the money line despite the skid while going 22-20 on the run line. Overs are 18-19-5 for the Angels with four of their last five games going over the betting total.
This is the fifth-highest scoring offense in baseball at 4.83 runs per game on a .740 team OPS that is ranked fifth. Los Angeles pitching has been a pleasant surprise, checking in at a 3.43 collective ERA that is ranked eighth with the bullpen posting a mark of 3.77.
Ward has emerged out of nowhere to become the best hitter in baseball so far this season, batting .370/.481/.713 with nine homers, 23 RBI and 27 runs scored. Trout is also putting together an MVP-level campaign, batting .310/.422/.667 with 11 homers, 24 RBI and 33 runs scored.
Patrick Sandoval will make his seventh start of the season, hoping to continue what's been an excellent campaign so far as he's 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA through 33 innings. The 25-year-old is coming off a win over these Athletics last Sunday, when he allowed one run on four hits and four walks over 6.1 innings, striking out four.
Shortstop David Fletcher underwent adductor surgery earlier in May, while catcher Max Stassi and utilityman Jose Rojas are on the COVID list. Starting pitchers Chris Rodriguez (shoulder surgery), Griffin Canning (back discomfort) and Cooper Criswell (shoulder soreness) are on the IL. The Angels are also down some important relievers with Archie Bradley (strained abdominal), Austin Warren (nasal fracture surgery) and Jose Quijada (strained oblique) out.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This has not been a good stretch for the Angels, but this is the right pitching matchup for things to get back on track with an easy win. Sandoval has been excellent so far and should continue his form against a weak lineup, while the Angels lineup can provide more than enough run support when the team gets good pitching.
Stuff was never the question for Sandoval, and he's now able to harness it while being fully healthy, posting a 52 ERA-/69 FIP- thus far. Sandoval had little trouble with the Athletics last weekend, and they continue to struggle with a 79 wRC+ that is the second-worst in baseball with little reason to hope things will turn around.
Irvin only has a 122 FIP- this season due to a high rate of hard contact allowed, and faces a major challenge here as Los Angeles is second with a 118 wRC+ thanks to all the stars mashing so far. It remains to be seen if Los Angeles' pitching staff as a whole will hold up so well all season, but Sandoval looks great and can easily beat the Athletics on Sunday.
Full-Game Total Pick
With the awful offense but a pitching staff that has quietly been effective this season, Oakland is set up to play a ton of low-scoring games right now. Irvin has at least managed a good ERA this season, and the Oakland bullpen is top 10 in ERA while doing a better job than any other team in baseball at keeping the ball in the park.
Los Angeles bullpen is right at the league average in ERA, making it significantly improved from prior years, as signing at least a few capable veterans like Aaron Loup has been a big help. With effective enough pitchers going on Sunday, expect another low-scoring game in this series.