Yet both clubs will be sending fill-in starting pitchers to the mound due to injuries.
The A's had to plug the hole left by Brandon McCarthy, who was struck in the skull by a batted ball in his last outing -- Wednesday against the Angels -- and underwent emergency brain surgery. Rookie Dan Straily gets that assignment after being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, and he will make his fourth big league start and first since Aug. 16.
"I think he's been through all the firsts and knows what it's all about here," A's manager Bob Melvin said on Friday. "Again, we're not afraid to throw some young pitchers out there. We got a lot of young starters in our rotation right now and he will just add to that mix."
The Angels' situation is less severe, but the club had to juggle its rotation after right biceps tendinitis forced ace Jered Weaver to miss his scheduled start on Friday. That led manager Mike Scioscia to return veteran Jerome Williams to a starting role after the right-hander spent nearly all of the past two months in long relief.
"We're in the playoff race and I want to go out there and do my best," Williams said on Monday, adding that there will be "no adjustments at all."
"Just try to do the same things I've been doing out of the bullpen and just go as long as I can, try to put up zeros."
The two spot starters have a lot on their shoulders, considering the standings.
After Monday's 3-1 Oakland win, the A's lead the Orioles by two games for the top Wild Card spot, with Baltimore one game ahead of the Rays and 1 1/2 ahead of the Angels. The A's have won four straight and 13 of 16, with the only losses in that stretch coming against the Angels, whose six-game winning streak was snapped in the series opener.
Straily, the Minor League strikeout leader this season, is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in three Major League outings. His only rough spot came against the Angels on Aug. 8, when he served up four home runs -- and five runs total -- in 4 2/3 innings. The 23-year-old will be pitching on eight days' rest.
"It doesn't hurt," Melvin said. "I think everyone likes to be on a routine, but I think at this point in the season, when you have as many innings as you do under your belt, any time you can get some extra rest, you feel a bit more rejuvenated when you go out there."
Williams has a 4.60 ERA in his 14 starts this season, but surrendered at least four runs in each of his last five before shifting to the bullpen. He then put up a 3.67 ERA in 12 relief appearances.
"I was kind of out of my comfort zone for a little bit when I was in the bullpen, but I felt good there, too," said Williams, who expects to be able to throw 100-plus pitches. "I felt good there, too. I was throwing the ball well out of the bullpen, and hopefully tomorrow will be the same thing, I go out there and throw well."
A's: Good news for McCarthy
A scary situation received a positive development on Monday, when A's head trainer Nick Paparesta delivered some good news before the game at Angel Stadium. According to Paparesta, McCarthy's doctors, "are all very happy with how he's doing and the progress that's been made" since the injury.
McCarthy walked down a hallway in his Bay Area hospital on Monday and went up and down four steps using a handrail. He was able to talk on the phone and text some of his teammates, according to Paparesta, who also reported that McCarthy had an encouraging exam with his neurologist.
First baseman Daric Barton, right-handed pitcher Jesse Chavez and second baseman Jemile Weeks were called up by the A's on Monday after the end of Triple-A Sacramento's season. Neither Barton nor Weeks, starters with the club in the past, were in the lineup for Monday's game.
Angels: Aybar reaches out to McCarthys
Shortstop Erick Aybar, whose line drive caused McCarthy's injury, has been dealing with the mental burden since. He recently left a message for the pitcher, whose wife, Amanda, called back to let Aybar know of her husband's progress.
"It's been hard," Aybar said in Spanish on Monday. "You never want that to happen. We may be on different teams, but I don't wish harm upon anybody. I always want things to turn out well."
Center fielder Mike Trout hit the 10.0 mark in Wins Above Replacement on Sunday, making him the seventh player overall and fourth position player to rack up that total in a single season in the past 13 years. Trout, by far the Major League leader in the category, reached that plateau in only 117 games after debuting on April 28.
The teams' season series is now tied 8-8.
Williams made one start this season against the A's, on May 21. He held Oakland to two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings, but walked five.