The Los Angeles Angels have clinched a playoff spot and own the best record in the majors, but they’ve struggled on the road recently, which could keep them from the franchise’s first 100-win season.
After having their five-game winning streak snapped, the Angels look to bounce back Wednesday when they continue a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics.
The Angels (92-58) opened a season-high, 10-game road trip with an 8-1 loss to the Athletics (70-80) on Tuesday. Ryan Sweeney had four hits and Jack Hannahan homered for Oakland, which won three straight for the first time in three months.
The A’s have won seven of their last 10. They last won four in a row June 13-17.
“We beat a good team and a great pitcher tonight,” Hannahan said. “Any time you win a game is huge, especially because our second half we’ve struggled and it all started after the series with these guys right before the All-Star break. We’re trying to get out of it and this is a big win.”
Los Angeles has already clinched the AL West title, but it has lost 10 of its last 15 road games. The Angels play their next nine games away from home, also facing Texas and Seattle before returning home for the final series of the regular season. During their last 15 road games, the starting rotation is 3-4 with a 5.17 ERA while the bullpen has a 4.67 ERA.
The pitching struggles on the road are a big departure from the Angels’ success at home. Los Angeles had won seven of its previous eight before Tuesday’s loss, with six of those wins coming at home. During that eight-game stretch, the Angels had a 2.88 ERA.
On Tuesday, John Lackey allowed four runs and nine hits over 5 1-3 innings while Jason Bulger gave up three runs without retiring a batter in the seventh after issuing three walks, giving up a single and hitting a batter.
Trying to bounce back, the Angels hand the ball to Jered Weaver (11-10, 4.25 ERA).
Weaver pitched one of his best games of the season last Thursday against Seattle, throwing six scoreless innings while allowing three hits in the 7-4 win. The outing was his first in more than a week after cutting his fingers in a dugout accident Sept. 2.
The right-hander is 2-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six career starts against the A’s. On Aug. 25, he allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings against them in a 2-1 loss in his lone start against Oakland in 2008.
Greg Smith (7-15, 4.23) counters for the A’s after he suffered a 15th loss— the most by an Oakland pitcher since Tom Candiotti lost 16 games in 1998. Smith gave up six runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-0 loss to the Rangers on Friday.
Smith also tied the franchise’s record for losses by a rookie. He has the lowest run-support average in the majors at 2.82.
“There’s nothing I can do about that,” Smith told the A’s official Web site. “I don’t go hit. That’s not my job. … Maybe it’s just one of those things where I’ll just have to bite the bullet for this year.”
The 24-year-old left-hander is 1-3 with a 3.68 ERA in four career starts against the Angels. In three of those outings, the A’s failed to provide him with any run support.