The first-place Oakland Athletics will encounter the hottest team in the American League West when they open a three-game series against the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Angels right-hander Dylan Bundy (1-6, 6.16 ERA) and A’s lefty Sean Manaea (5-2, 3.09) are the scheduled starters.
The Angels are 8-2 over the past 10 games and have won 11 of 14 to climb into third place in the AL West. They enter the game six games behind Oakland, which has a two-game lead on the Houston Astros.
The Angels flew into Oakland Sunday night after completing a three-game road sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, finally getting an easy one, 10-3, in the finale after 6-5 and 8-7 nail-biters in the first two games of the series.
Those three wins came on the heels of three straight at home over Kansas City, games in which the Angels outscored the Royals 22-5.
Bundy benefited from eight of those runs in an 8-3 win over the Royals in his most recent start on June 7. The win not only was Bundy’s first of the season but was arguably his best outing of the year, one in which he allowed a season-low-tying two runs, plus no walks for the first time in 2021.
The 28-year-old faced just 13 batters and allowed four runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings when he went up against the A’s last month in Anaheim. The Angels rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win the game 6-5.
One of the homers came off the bat of Matt Olson, who added three more over the weekend as the A’s took three of four games from the Royals.
Olson and Matt Chapman, who went into Friday’s game hitting just .201 before collecting two doubles and a single in a 4-3 win, combined for 10 hits, five homers and 10 RBIs in the victories on Saturday and Sunday.
“After losing the first game of the series, they were igniters in all three wins,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Olson and Chapman. “When those guys are hitting, we’ve got a good chance to win ballgames.
“Right now with Oley, you just think he’s going to hit a homer every time up. For Matt now, he’s gone through a little bit of a drought, and now he’s doing things that you kinda expect him to do and he expects to do.”
Bundy, who spent the first five years of his career with the Baltimore Orioles before joining the Angels for the 2020 season, has pitched well on most occasions against the A’s, going 4-1 with a 4.05 ERA in nine games, including eight starts.
Manaea hasn’t had that same level of success against the Angels, posting a 2-4 record with a 4.45 ERA in 12 career starts. He was pulled five innings into the earlier head-to-head with Bundy, having allowed just one run, only to see the Oakland bullpen lose the lead.
Coincidentally, that May 23 meeting also saw Justin Upton bat leadoff for the Angels for the first time in his career. He contributed two hits, an RBI and a run to the win, and hasn’t stopped hitting since.
The veteran had three hits in Sunday’s win at Arizona, making him 22-for-66 (.333) over the past three weeks.
“I try to set the table,” Upton said of his new role. “I’m waiting on more pitches, better pitches to hit. Getting on via a walk or getting a pitch down the middle, I can get on base.”
–Field Level Media