Thanks to what is turning into an incredibly hot race in the American League West, the game between the Angels and A’s was certainly the most entertaining of the evening on Thursday. In the first matchup of a four-game series, the Angels were able to pull out a win in extra innings and increase their lead in the AL West by two games.
The game certainly wasn’t without confusion, as the A’s, who have lost 5 of their last 10, protested an obstruction call in the ninth. The controversy began when Erick Aybar ran into Dan Otero, who then bumped into Brandon Moss on first base. The argument was that Aybar was running off the baseline, but the umpire did not see it that way. Luckily for the A’s, the Angels didn’t score on the play, but you can bet that the confusion certainly had an impact on the mindset as the game headed into extras.
After Fernando Salas came in and pitched a perfect inning for the Angels in the top of the 10th, Los Angeles would quickly go to work during their chance at the plate. Albert Pujols was walked to start things off, and he then advanced to third when Josh Hamilton singled to center. Howie Kendrick then hit a sacrifice fly into center and Pujols would easily strut home for the 4-3 victory.
The A’s are certainly frustrated over their loss on Thursday, but they are likely increasingly disappointed with the fact that the Angels are continuing to increase their lead in the AL West. After going 5-5 in their last ten, and with LA going 7-3 over the same stretch, the Angels are now two full games ahead of Oakland with just a few weeks left in the season.
The two divisional squads hadn’t played each other a single time until last weekend. During this first series, the A’s took two of the three games. They’ll now finish it up with games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and they’ll meet again in the final week of the season. With things coming down to the wire, both teams needs as many head-to-head wins as possible.
The A’s and Angels both sit with 99.4% odds to make the playoffs. However, one team will earn a divisional title, while the other will have to play as the Wild Card representative of the American League.
Despite their loss on Thursday, the A’s still have a league-best 9/2 odds to win the World Series this season. The Angels are just slightly behind them at 8/1 odds. As we get into crunch time as the season comes to a close, be sure to check back with sportspicks.com handicappers for insight and info as we near the playoffs.
For Friday night’s game, both the A’s and the Angels will send aces to the mound in hopes of getting a win. The Angels will throw in Jared Weaver, who is 14-7 on the season, and earned a 9-4 win over the A’s in his last outing. Weaver will match up against Jon Lester, who is 13-8, including a 2-1 win over Los Angeles in his last outing.