The Los Angeles Angels close their regular season Sunday trying to complete a sweep of the Oakland Athletics, but also enjoying the spoils of being able to rest most of their regulars again ahead of the playoffs.
The Angels (94-67) are locked into a division series matchup against the Boston Red Sox that begins Wednesday at Fenway Park. Manager Mike Scioscia has not worried about securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, instead making wholesale lineup changes to rest key players and tinker with pitching possibilities for the postseason.
That mind-set is again expected. Right fielder Vladimir Guerrero likely will sit out again to rest a sore triceps muscle, center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. has a sore knee and utilityman Maicer Izturis is trying to heal a sore quadriceps in time for the playoffs. Using only three regulars on Saturday, the Angels posted a 3-2 victory as Kelvim Escobar pitched six strong innings for his 18th win.
But the bigger news to come out of the game was the impressive performance of Bartolo Colon, who came out of the bullpen for the first time in a decade and struck out two in a scoreless inning. While Scioscia has not committed to Colon, who had been sidelined for six weeks with a shoulder injury, in a postseason rotation, he also has not ruled it out.
“When you have a talent like Bartolo, you want him on your staff in some capacity,” Scioscia said. “We’ve looked at a couple scenarios, but we’re not going to rule out Bart starting, but we’re looking at the scenario of him helping us out of the pen.”
Jered Weaver (13-7, 4.01 ERA), one of Los Angeles’ playoff starters, will try to sharpen up for the postseason. The second-year right-hander has won five of his last six starts, but labored to a win Sept. 20 against Seattle, giving up four runs and nine hits in just five innings of a 9-5 victory.
Weaver has split two starts versus the A’s this season, giving up six runs and 11 hits - including two homers - in 12 innings. He allowed two runs in six innings of a victory Sept. 4 in his most recent outing against them.
The 24-year-old is 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA in four lifetime starts versus Oakland.
The Athletics (75-86) are trying to avoid a season-ending six-game losing streak but still will have their worst finish since going 74-88 in 1998, which was also their last losing season.
Chad Gaudin (11-13, 4.56) wraps up his first full season as a starter hoping to avoid a third consecutive loss. The 24-year-old right-hander has failed to reach the fifth inning in his last two starts and walked a career-high seven in four innings on Tuesday in a 7-3 loss to Boston, giving up three runs.
He is no stranger to the Angels this season, going 1-2 with a 6.26 ERA in five starts, and has been tagged for seven homers in just 27 1-3 innings. Gaudin has lost his last two starts to Los Angeles, being reached for 12 runs and 15 hits in 11 innings.
The teams have split 18 meetings.