The surging Oakland Athletics are now setting the pace in the AL West.
Oakland occupied second place in the AL West for most of this season, but six straight wins and a skid by Seattle has put the Athletics two games up on the slumping Mariners.
“We’re playing great baseball,” Halama said. “We’re riding a high right now, and if we can continue to ride this high and put some space between us and Seattle, we’re going to be in great shape. I’m sure Seattle is reading the scoreboard or looking at the newspaper, and they know we’re playing good baseball.”
Oakland, averaging more than eight runs per game during the six-game streak, won seven straight from June 13-20.
With Mark Mulder on the disabled list, Hudson is taking on an even greater role in the Oakland rotation. He has responded with some outstanding pitching the past month.
Hudson has won four straight starts and six consecutive decisions since losing at Minnesota on July 17. He has held opponents to two runs or fewer in six of his last seven outings, compiling a 1.20 ERA.
Although the Devil Rays are among the worst teams in the majors, they have been very competitive in August, posting a 13-13 record.
Tampa Bay did Oakland a huge favor by taking two of three from Seattle, including a 3-2 victory Thursday.
“We beat a contending team, but we’re trying to beat everybody,” said catcher Toby Hall, who snapped a ninth-inning tie with a solo homer. “We’re not trying to pick and choose. We’re trying to win every game.”
STANDINGS: Devil Rays - 5th place, 28 GB, AL East. Athletics - 1st place, AL West.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Joe Kennedy (3-10, 6.47 ERA). Kennedy, the team’s opening day starter, is winless in 12 starts and is 0-5 with a 7.33 ERA in nine starts since returning from a left shoulder injury on July 9. He was reached for eight runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings Friday in an 8-3 loss to Cleveland. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 5.16 ERA in five career starts against the A’s.
ATHLETICS PROBABLE STARTER: Hudson (13-4, 2.40 ERA). The right-hander limited Toronto to two unearned runs and six hits in six innings Sunday as Oakland coasted to a 17-2 victory. Hudson has dominated Tampa Bay, going 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA in seven career starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Devil Rays - Aubrey Huff, .310 avg., 25 HRs and 80 RBIs; Rocco Baldelli, 72 runs; Carl Crawford, 43 SBs. Athletics - Eric Chavez, .275 avg. and 24 HRs; Miguel Tejada, 88 RBIs and 81 runs; Eric Byrnes, 9 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Athletics, 2-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Devil Rays - Tampa Bay needs just two wins to match last season’s total of 55. … 1B Huff has collected at least one hit in 21 of his last 23 games. … SS Julio Lugo was 5-for-12 with four extra-base hits in the Seattle series. Athletics - Oakland is a major league-best 17-9 in August and is a season-high 24 games above .500. … RHP Keith Foulke’s 35 saves puts him in eighth place on Oakland’s single-season list. … The A’s are 38-13 all-time against the Devil Rays.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devil Rays- 24-42 on the road. Athletics - 47-21 at home.
INJURIES: Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; INF Terry Shumpert (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Ben Grieve (blood clot), 60-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL. Athletics - OF Jermaine Dye (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Micah Bowie (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Mark Mulder (hip), 15-day DL.