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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, August 23 (All times eastern)
LA Angels of Anaheim (76-51) at Oakland Athletics (75-52), 9:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: LA Angels - C.J. Wilson (10-8, 4.59) Oakland - Jon Lester (13-8, 2.58)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The battle for American League West supremacy rages on in the Golden State Saturday as the Oakland Athletics entertain the LA Angels of Anaheim at the O.co Coliseum in the middle test of a three-game set.
Oakland, which appeared poised to run away with the division just two weeks ago when it was 28 games over .500, has won only three times in the last 11 outings. However, one of those victories came last night in a 5-3 final in the series opener, leaving the club one-game back of the Angels in the division.
Starting pitcher Sonny Gray nearly went the distance for the A's, coming within two outs of the complete game as he secured his 13th win of the season. Gray allowed three runs on six hits -- two home runs -- while walking two and striking out five. Sean Doolittle came on in the ninth to lock down his 19th save.
Coco Crisp and Stephen Vogt both delivered home runs for the hosts, the former scoring twice, while Alberto Callaspo contributed a couple of hits to the win as well.
"We don't want to get too caught up in one game, but I think tonight we just worried about winning tonight, and that's our goal," said Sam Fuld who put Oakland ahead with an RBI triple. "We try to take it one game at a time, but given our struggles as of late, it's great to get that first win in the series under our belt."
Angels starting pitcher Hector Santiago managed to get through only five innings, scattering seven hits and allowed only one earned run, walking two and fanning five as he failed to factor into the decision. Instead, it was Jason Grilli who was charged with his second loss of 2014, permitting two runs in just one inning of action.
At the plate, Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton both went deep for the visitors, the former posting two hits to match teammates Erick Aybar and David Freese in that department.
"We haven't gotten it done up here yet this year, but I think we're a better team now than we've been at any time during the season," Angels manager Mike Scioscia noted. "They're a good club over there and they certainly can shut you down when they get a lead. They do a lot of different things, and we have to be ready for it."
Coming off his first loss since being traded from Boston, Jon Lester is heading back to the hill for the Athletics tonight. The left-hander, who had been with the Red Sox since breaking into the majors back in 2006, won his first three appearances for his new team before being tripped up by Atlanta last weekend.
On the road in Georgia, Lester was touched for three earned runs on six hits, including a pair of home runs, while walking one and striking out five in six innings of action.
The Washington native has a career mark of 4-2 in eight all-time appearances against the Angels, generating a 4.44 ERA while delivering just 34 strikeouts against 17 walks in 48 2/3 innings.
As for the Angels, they have C.J. Wilson countering on the mound this time around. Wilson, a product of Loyola Marymount, secured his second win in as many games on Monday as he and LA topped the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The left-hander permitted just s single run on five hits, but walked five as he struck out as many over the course of 5 1/3 innings of action. A bit shaky in terms of control in recent weeks, Wilson has issued 16 bases-on-balls and fanned only 15 over his last five outings.
For his career, Wilson has a record of 11-7 and has also logged five saves in 46 all-time appearances against Oakland.
Oakland has won seven of 10 matchups with the Angels this season. These rivals still have seven games against one another after this series.
08/23 10:23:16 ET