A's host Angels feeling hot Rays

September 19, 2018

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels will look to further endanger the Oakland Athletics' chances of making the playoffs when the teams meet Wednesday night for the second time in a three-game series.

Caleb Cowart, pressed into action when regular second baseman David Fletcher was lost for the season Sunday with a hamstring injury, shocked the Oakland crowd with his first career grand slam Tuesday night, helping the Angels overcome an early three-run deficit en route to a 9-7 victory.

The win was the fourth-place Angels' eighth in 14 meetings with their California rivals this season.

The loss dropped the A's (90-61) a game closer to Tampa Bay (84-66) with 12 games remaining in the Rays' season. A lead that was 8 1/2 games after the A's won at Tampa Bay on Friday night has suddenly shrunk to 5 1/2.

Well after the Rays close out a series at Texas on Wednesday afternoon, Angels right-hander Felix Pena (3-4, 3.75 ERA) will match up with A's lefty Brett Anderson (3-5, 4.35) for the second time in a little over a month.

The Angels prevailed 4-3 in the Aug. 10 meeting, overcoming a shaky start by Pena, who allowed first-inning home runs to Matt Chapman and Khris Davis among his first 13 pitches.

But the A's went the final 8 2/3 innings without scoring again, and the Angels eventually overtook them on two-run homers by Kole Calhoun off Anderson and Justin Upton against Lou Trivino.

It was Trivino who served up the grand slam to Cowart in the series opener.

Pena was won his last two starts, including a six-inning scoreless effort against Texas last Wednesday in his most recent outing.

He has faced the A's twice in his career, once as a starter, with a 0-0 record and 5.40 ERA.

Anderson is trying to pitch his way into the Oakland postseason rotation, if in fact the A's qualify. He did not help his cause in his last start, when he lasted 3 1/3 innings in his first outing after missing time due to a forearm strain.

He has gone 1-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 11 career meetings, including eight starts, with the Angels.

Anderson has never gone head-to-head with Angels rookie Shohei Ohtani, who got on base three times via a single and two walks in Tuesday's game.

The left-handed-hitting Ohtani has made only 15 starts against left-handed pitchers this season, but he came through with a key single against A's lefty reliever Ryan Buchter in the Angels' six-run sixth inning in the series opener.

He had been hitting only .205 against left-handers at the time of that at-bat.

Mike Trout homered in the win, his 35th of the season.

While he basically has no chance of catching the A's Khris Davis (43) for the AL home run crown, Trout is shooting for his second 40-homer season.

If he makes it, chances are he'll have to do more damage against Oakland pitching. The Angels and A's not only meet twice more in this series, but also close the regular season with a three-game set in Anaheim.