Fresh off a three-game sweep over the Mariners, the Angels have won five in a row and eight of their past nine entering a four-game series against the American League West rival A's that begins Monday at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Although Angels manager Mike Scioscia maintains he doesn't look at his club's place in the standings, it enters just a half-game back of the Rangers in the AL West, which is the closest the Angels have been to first place since May 1.
The Angels will turn to left-hander Scott Kazmir in the series opener against A's right-hander Ben Sheets.
Kazmir, who is 4-5 with a 5.86 ERA this season, is coming off one of his better outings of the season when he limited the Royals to just one run over 5 2/3 innings on Wednesday. But he also struggled with his control with four walks and just two strikeouts.
"The results were there, but his command wasn't what it needs to be," Scioscia said. "When he had to make a pitch, he did, but his ball-to-strike ratio was not good."
The A's, meanwhile, have been a pleasant surprise this season and enter just one game behind the Rangers in the standings. But they enter having lost four of their past six after playing the always-tough Red Sox and Twins.
Oakland will look to Sheets to get it back on track, and the nine-year veteran has done his best to keep the A's in games, as he's pitched at least six innings in each of his past six starts.
Sheets, though, has just one win over that stretch despite a 3.32 ERA and is 2-4 with a 5.00 ERA on the season. He tossed six innings again in his last start on Wednesday but allowed four runs in a loss against the Red Sox.
"I was up and down," he said. "I'm still working on being consistent with good arm speed. I didn't think it was great by any means."
Angels: Izturis held out
Infielder Maicer Izturis was held out of the Angels' 9-4 win over the Mariners on Sunday because of soreness in his right knee, but he is expected to be back in the lineup on Monday. "I could play," Izturis said, "but it's probably better to take a day off."
A's: Crisp nears rehab assignment
Outfielder Coco Crisp resumed baseball activities on Sunday and could potentially be ready for a rehab assignment this week. Crisp, who is on the disabled list with a strained right intercostal muscle, will take batting practice early in the week, and then the A's will decide when Crisp will begin his Minor League rehab assignment.
The Angels will have Scioscia back at manager on Monday after he missed the final two games in Seattle to attend daughter Taylor's high school graduation. Bench coach Ron Roenicke was the club's manager in Scioscia's place. ... A's manager Bob Geren said Eric Chavez, rehabbing from neck spasms, will continue to work out with the club this week and could begin a rehab assignment by the end of the homestand Friday. ... Angels catcher Jeff Mathis, recovering from a fractured right wrist, caught a full game for the second day in a row on Saturday for Triple-A Salt Lake, going 1-for-4 with an RBI in a 7-2 loss to Colorado Springs. Third baseman Brandon Wood was 0-for-4 in his fifth rehab assignment at third base.
Mon, 6/7 10:05 PM ET
Surging Angels claim top spot in AL West
The Angels are alone in first place in the American League West for the first time this season after winning their sixth straight game behind a stellar effort by left-hander Scott Kazmir against the A's.
|Kendrick, H, 2B||4||1||1||1||0||1||2||.261|
|Hunter, To, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.282|
|Rivera, J, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.229|
|Wilson, Bo, C||3||1||2||0||0||0||1||.167|
2B: Wilson, Bo (2, Sheets).
3B: Aybar (1, Sheets).
HR: Abreu (7, 1st inning off Sheets, 1 on, 1 out).
TB: Aybar 3; Kendrick, H; Abreu 4; Matsui; Wilson, Bo 3.
RBI: Abreu 2 (30), Aybar (11), Kendrick, H (37).
2-out RBI: Aybar; Kendrick, H.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Abreu; Kendrick, H.
Team RISP: 2-for-5.
Team LOB: 4.
SB: Aybar (10, 2nd base off Rodriguez, H/Suzuki, K).
E: Napoli (5, throw).
PB: Wilson, Bo (1).
2B: Sweeney 2 (14, Kazmir, Rodney).
3B: Davis, R (2, Kazmir).
HR: Fox (2, 7th inning off Kazmir, 0 on, 1 out).
TB: Davis, R 3; Kouzmanoff; Rosales; Sweeney 5; Fox 4.
RBI: Fox (12), Sweeney (27).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Ellis; Suzuki, K 2; Cust.
Team RISP: 1-for-8.
Team LOB: 9.
E: Kouzmanoff (6, throw), Rosales (1, fielding).
Pitches-strikes: Kazmir 115-77, Jepsen 6-3, Rodney 19-16, Fuentes 12-8, Sheets 89-59, Rodriguez, H 29-18, Bowers 14-9.
Groundouts-flyouts: Kazmir 11-3, Jepsen 0-1, Rodney 0-0, Fuentes 0-0, Sheets 13-1, Rodriguez, H 1-2, Bowers 0-1.
Batters faced: Kazmir 28, Jepsen 2, Rodney 5, Fuentes 3, Sheets 25, Rodriguez, H 7, Bowers 3.
Inherited runners-scored: Jepsen 1-0.
Ejections: Oakland Athletics Batting Coach Jim Skaalen ejected by HP umpire Eric Cooper (6th).
Umpires: HP: Eric Cooper. 1B: Bill Miller. 2B: Mike Reilly. 3B: Chad Fairchild.
Weather: 61 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 15 mph, Out to LF.
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media