Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Three victories over the last nine games. Back-to-back losses. A 5.52 ERA since clinching the AL West.
For a team hosting an American League Division Series, the Los Angeles Angels aren’t playing like they’ve earned it. Last night’s 8-4 loss in Oakland highlighted how C.J. Wilson-and overused relievers- can make or break a potential World Series run.
Wilson hit the showers before recording a third out. The southpaw’s second shortest career-outing began with a single and three consecutive walks, and ended with the A’s scoring six first-inning runs. Wilson, who expects to be the team’s No. 2 option in the ALDS barring Matt Shoemaker’s return, carries abhorrent marks in ERA, wild pitches, batters hit by pitch, WHIP, and walks per nine innings; each his worst in any season since 2008.
Call to the Pen
Offensively, things are where one would expect. Albert Pujols’ resurgence continued with a three-run homer off A’s reliever Evan Scribner, the first baseman’s second time going deep over the last three games, and Mike Trout notched his league-leading 110th RBI with a first-inning sac fly.
Only Detroit has more hits than the Angels among AL teams, and only the Tigers and Royals have better batting averages. The runs and RBI leader still resides in Anaheim. Faced with one of Oakland’s young aces, Trout and company will need similar run production tonight.
The Angels DFA’d Wade LeBlanc twice this season. Partly for a lack of room in the bullpen, but mainly because he allowed 10 runs on 13 hits in under 10 innings as a Halo.
LeBlanc’s third go-around may have penciled his name onto the postseason roster.
The right-hander has given up a sole run over his last 11 2/3 innings with the last 10 1/3 being scoreless. LeBlanc shut out Seattle through 5 1/3 innings last Thursday, scattering three hits without allowing a walk but didn’t factor in the decision.
Oakland poses a more daunting challenge. LeBlanc carries a career 7.84 ERA in three meetings- one start- against the division rival. The A’s will likely field a right-handed heavy lineup, given LeBlanc’s .281 batting average allowed to righties.
Sonny Gray is looking for just his third win since Aug. 1 Oakland’s monumental collapse has taken a toll on the former Cy Young candidate, who is 0-2 with a 4.78 ERA over his last five outings and didn’t factor in decision where he gave up three runs or less.
Gray is 2-0 in four starts against the Angels. Both victories came this season, lasting six-plus innings each time.
- Josh Donaldson is 4-for-4 with two homers against LeBlanc.
- Trout is batting .364 with two solo home runs against Gray.
- Pujols became one of six players with 1,600 RBI before his age-35 season with last night’s home run.
TV: 7:05 p.m. PT, Fox Sports West, CSNCA
Radio: KLAA 830, 95.7 FM The Game