The Oakland Athletics have won three in a row to get back to .500. To move over that mark, they will need to beat a struggling division rival that has given them trouble recently.
Oakland (12-12) looks to extend its winning streak when it meets the Los Angeles Angels on Monday in the start of a two-game set at Angel Stadium.
The A’s won five of six from Los Angeles (12-13) in July and August. In nine meetings since, Oakland has gone just 2-7 while having been outscored 33-26 and outhit 74-59.
Oakland heads to southern California off its best game of the year. In a 13-6 rout of Kansas City on Sunday, the A’s recorded season-highs in runs and hits.
“Our bats have been pretty dormant the month of April,” said Chavez, who had three hits and three RBIs as Oakland won for the 12th straight time in Kansas City. “This is the first time we’ve really swung the bat that well, so it’s a good sign for us.”
Swisher has reached base in 19 straight games and finished April with a .312 batting average, 10 homers and 24 RBIs. Chavez begins May hitting .301 with nine homers and 20 RBIs.
“Between Chavez and Swisher, they’ve been carrying us pretty much all year for the most part,” Oakland right fielder Jay Payton said. “Now it’s time for some of the other guys to get going.”
Brad Halsey (0-0, 1.42 ERA) will make his first start in an Oakland uniform after nine relief appearances. The left-hander was acquired March 26 from Arizona for Juan Cruz, and has allowed two runs and 10 hits over 12 2-3 innings.
He pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings against the Angels in 5-4 loss on August 22.
With Bartolo Colon on the disabled list, John Lackey (3-1, 3.09) has taken over as the Angels’ ace and will get the start in this game. The right-hander looks to duplicate his best outing of the season after limiting Detroit to one hit over eight innings with five walks and eight strikeouts in a 4-0 win on Wednesday.
Lackey praised his defense for the stellar outing.
“They were hitting some balls at some people,” Lackey said. “Guys made some big plays for me.”
Lackey allowed a season-high seven walks over five innings on April 21 against Oakland, but did not get a decision in the Angels’ 5-3 loss. He is 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 14 career starts versus the A’s.
Los Angeles (12-13) will try to rebound after a three-game sweep by the Chicago White Sox, capped by a 6-5 loss Sunday.
“It’s a hard way to get the loss. I’d much rather have given up a hit right there and have them beat me than beat myself,” Shields said.
The Angels have dropped four of their last five games and begin May with a losing record for the first time since 2003.