After failing to win its first AL West title since 2003 on the initial try, Oakland again looks to clinch the division when it wraps up a three-game series with Los Angeles on Sunday.
The A’s (90-64) lead Los Angeles by seven games with eight to play, including the final four of the season against the Angels in Anaheim. In each of the last two years, Oakland could only watch as the Angels (83-71) clinched division crowns at McAfee Coliseum.
“I think there’s a pretty healthy respect for what the Angels have the ability to do and what they’ve done in the past,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said before Saturday’s 6-2 loss. “Nothing’s over ‘til it’s over. … I don’t think it’s being viewed as payback.”
“It was kind of a pride thing,” Lackey said. “It was kind of motivational. I didn’t want to watch it (a celebration) on my day. We still mathematically have a chance. We’re going to go down fighting.”
Blanton fell to 0-6 with a 3.81 ERA in nine career appearances against the Angels.
“I feel like every time I face them I catch bad breaks that end up costing me,” Blanton said.
Coming off his shortest outing of the year, Dan Haren (14-12, 4.01 ERA) gets the start for Oakland in the series finale. Facing Cleveland on Monday, the right-hander lasted only 4 2-3 innings in a 7-2 loss.
“Maybe it was a little letdown by me,” said Haren, who gave up seven runs and nine hits with four walks. “That’s pretty much unacceptable.”
Despite the poor outing, Haren is 8-3 with a 3.98 in 11 starts since July 26. He’s also shown remarkable control, walking only 14 in 72 1-3 innings in that span.
After dropping his first two starts of the season against the Angels, Haren tossed an eight-hitter in Oakland’s 3-1 win on July 31. He’s 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA in three career starts against Los Angeles.
While he has excelled at McAfee Coliseum, Angels starter Ervin Santana (14-8, 4.57 ERA) has failed to win on the road since beating Oakland on July 9.
In six road starts following that 4-2 victory, the right-hander is 0-4 with a 9.36 ERA. His road woes continued last Sundays, when he was tagged for four runs and seven hits over five innings in an 8-1 loss at Texas.
Santana, though, does seem to enjoy pitching in Oakland, going 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA in three career starts there. Overall, he’s 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA in six career starts versus Oakland.
“You don’t need to get hit with a brick in the head to know that it’s a must-win,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of the matchup. “These guys won’t melt.”