The host Oakland Athletics once again will look to take advantage of the Los Angeles Angels, who are without star outfielder Mike Trout, when the California rivals meet for the sixth time in nine days on Saturday afternoon.
Trout hasn’t played since May 17 because of a strained right calf.
Without Trout, a three-time American League MVP, in the lineup, the Angels have gone just 4-7, held to four or fewer runs on six of the 11 occasions. he was batting .333 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs at the time of the injury.
The A’s have accounted for four of those games. They beat the Angels 8-4 and 6-2 to begin a three-game set in Anaheim, Calif., last week, and opened the current four-game series with 5-0 and 3-1 wins.
Right-hander Frankie Montas (5-4, 4.92 ERA) will attempt to end a personal two-game losing streak when he faces the Angels for the first time this season.
In order to be successful, chances are he’ll have to deal better with Shohei Ohtani, who was the losing pitcher Friday for the Angels.
Ohtani figures to be back at his designated role on Saturday against a pitcher he’s owned in the past. He’s 5-for-10 with two home runs and five RBIs against Montas.
Angels manager Joe Maddon mentioned the possibility of Ohtani playing the outfield, but not necessarily in this series with a DH available. The Angels move on to San Francisco — a National League site with no DH — on Monday and Tuesday.
Because of being scratched from his start in the series opener at Oakland on Thursday, Ohtani lost out on the possibility of pitching Tuesday at San Francisco, which would have allowed him to bat as a pitcher.
Now it appears he’ll have to play the outfield to get into the starting lineup, and Maddon wasn’t sure he wanted to go there.
“It just exceeds comfort zones a little bit,” he said, noting Oracle Park’s odd dimensions in right field.
Montas has had trouble with the home run ball this season. He’s allowed five in his past four starts and already given up a career high of 11 as just the second month of the season comes to a close.
A’s manager Bob Melvin, who moved into a tie with Tony La Russa atop the A’s franchise list for wins with his 798th on Friday, said Montas would be wise to ride the momentum created by Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea in the first two games of the series.
“These starters kinda challenge each other,” he observed. “One guy does it one night. Then the next night, it’s somebody else’s turn.”
Montas has never lost to the Angels, going 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA in nine games, including six starts.
The Angels are scheduled to counter with righty Alex Cobb (2-2, 4.78), who has yet to pitch against Oakland this season.
In fact, Cobb hasn’t gone head-to-head with the A’s since September of 2018 when he pitched for the Baltimore Orioles.
Cobb has been tough on Oakland. After getting hit hard for five runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first outing against the A’s in 2011, he has given up a total of just 10 earned runs in his last nine starts, running his career record against them to 4-3 with a 2.18 ERA.
He has posted a 2.03 ERA in four career starts in Oakland.
–Field Level Media