John Lackey will look to stop the Angels’ five-game losing streak and prevent Los Angeles from losing more ground in the AL West race when it continues a three-game series with the division-leading Oakland Athletics.
Los Angeles suffered a 2-1, 11-inning loss on Tuesday in the opener of a six-game homestand. The Angels slipped two games behind the first-place A’s, who have won seven straight to claim the top spot.
The losing streak started when Lackey pitched a nine-hitter in a 2-0 loss at Baltimore last Thursday in his first complete game of the season. Lackey had not allowed a homer in 62 straight innings before the Orioles’ Javy Lopez connected for a two-run shot in the fourth inning.
“Really, the one pitch he tried to force was the ball to Lopez, and he hit it out of the park,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But outside of that, you couldn’t ask for much more than what John did.”
The 26-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three starts against Oakland this season. He is 4-1 with a 3.62 ERA in 11 career outings against the A’s.
Los Angeles has scored 13 runs during the losing streak, including an eight-run outburst in a loss at Tampa Bay last Friday.
Reigning league MVP Vladimir Guerrero went 0-for-5 on Tuesday and is homerless over his last 14 games. Guerrero does not have an extra-base hit over his last 13 games and is still searching for his 300th career homer.
Oakland hopes to have shortstop Bobby Crosby back in the lineup Wednesday. Crosby, who indicated he would play Wednesday, missed his third straight game Tuesday due to a bruised left ankle.
“It’s not great when I run,” Crosby said. “Pushing off and starting and stopping hurts a little, but I think it’s something I can play through.”
Joe Blanton, who is 3-0 with an 0.95 ERA over his last six outings, takes the mound for Oakland. Blanton enters with a 15-inning scoreless streak after allowing four hits in six innings last Friday in a 4-1 win at Baltimore.
“He’s got a lot of poise, a guy that doesn’t really act his age on the mound, so to speak,” catcher Jason Kendall said. “You can’t tell it’s his first full year.”
The 24-year-old right-hander is 0-1 with a 1.93 ERA in a pair of starts against the Angels this season. Blanton is 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA over his last three road outings after dropping his first six decisions this season away from Oakland.