The Angels’ last homestand was a momentous one, as Los Angeles became the first club to clinch a playoff spot and celebrated a record-breaking season from closer Francisco Rodriguez.
With those events out of the way, the Angels return to business as usual as they continue preparing for the postseason by visiting the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night in the opener of a season high-tying 10-game road trip.
Los Angeles (92-57) clinched a playoff berth with a 4-2 win over the New York Yankees on Wednesday, and Rodriguez broke the record for most saves in a season by notching his 58th in a 5-2 victory over Seattle on Saturday.
Those were the highlights of a 6-1 homestand for the Angels, who own baseball’s best record and are AL West champions for the fourth time in five seasons. They’ve also won their last five games, including a 4-3 victory over Seattle on Sunday on Chone Figgins’ walk-off RBI single.
“This was a great week for the team,” first baseman Mark Teixeira told the Angels’ official Web site Sunday after reaching a milestone of his own with his 200th career home run. “The whole week we had good pitching and had big hits. Today was one of those days.”
The Angels, who haven’t had a longer win streak since they won a season-high seven straight May 31-June 7, hope to keep rolling as they hit the road for 10 games. Los Angeles has the best road record in the majors at 43-28, but is 5-9 in its last 14 away from home.
The Angels hope to snap out of that slump at McAfee Coliseum, where they’ve won four of six this year. They’re 9-7 overall against Oakland.
The Athletics (69-80) totaled one run in losing the first two games of their current homestand, but have scored 14 to win the last two. Aaron Cunningham’s three-run homer broke an eighth-inning tie and lifted Oakland to a 7-4 win over Texas on Sunday. It was the first major league home run for the rookie outfielder, who is batting .304 (14-for-46) with 10 RBIs and five runs scored in 12 games.
“It’s a good feeling to get (the first homer) out of the way,” the 22-year-old Cunningham said. “It’s always nice to hit a home run but to come through and help the team get a W is even better.
“I figured they’d like to see what I can do and maybe I can come back and make the team next year.”
Cunningham and the rest of the A’s face Los Angeles starter John Lackey (11-3, 3.25 ERA) on Tuesday. The right-hander has dominated the Athletics, going 14-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 25 career starts against them, including 8-1 with a 1.71 ERA in his last 10.
Since a complete-game victory over Oakland on Aug. 26, however, Lackey is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts. He gave up five runs in seven innings of the Angels’ 7-6, 15-inning loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 6.
He’ll try to get back on track in a matchup with Oakland’s Sean Gallagher (1-2, 5.87), who fared well despite control problems Wednesday in his return from the disabled list. After being sidelined three weeks with shoulder fatigue, the right-hander held Detroit hitless in four scoreless innings of Oakland’s 5-2 victory. He walked six and struck out six.
Gallagher won his only previous start against the Angels, holding them to two runs and two hits in seven innings of a 9-2 victory July 11.