(Sports Network) - The Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are set to play the second contest of a three-game weekend series from the Coliseum this evening.
Pitcher Scott Kazmir has fallen far short of expectations for the Angels this season, a major reason that the team continues to trail division-leading Texas in the American League West race. Kazmir is 7-8 with a 5.98 ERA for the year and was torched for seven earned runs in 6 1/3 innings by the White Sox on Monday. The hard-throwing lefty has only struck out 58 batters in 87 1/3 innings while walking 46.
Kazmir did win his only previous start against Oakland this season and is 9-3 lifetime with a 2.85 ERA versus the Athletics.
A's starter Ben Sheets is just 3-8 this season with a 4.89 ERA, but there is reason for optimism in Oakland. The big righty, who takes the mound tonight, allowed three earned runs over a season-high 7 1/3 innings Monday against the New York Yankees, and while that game did end in defeat, Sheets finally feels back to form after missing last season due to elbow surgery.
Sheets has faced the Angels four times in his career, and while his 3.67 ERA against the squad is solid, he has yet to win a game (0-2).
Erick Aybar's leadoff homer in the 10th proved to be the difference in Friday's series opener as the Angels defeated the A's, 6-5, despite squandering three different leads.
Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu each added a two-run homer for the Angels, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Hideki Matsui added a sacrifice fly in the victory.
"We need to focus on our club, not who we're playing," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the game. "We have a lot of things on our club we need to tighten up a little bit, do more consistently. Obviously, out of the batter's box we did a better job tonight and got the win."
Joel Pineiro was in line for the win after allowing three runs in seven solid innings, but the Angels righty had his six-start win streak snapped after Fernando Rodney gave up two runs in the eighth. Kevin Jepsen (1-1) received the win and Brian Fuentes recorded his 16th save by throwing the ninth.
Jack Cust hit a solo home run for the Athletics, who have lost four in a row. Kevin Kouzmanoff finished with two hits and Coco Crisp had an RBI in defeat.
Vin Mazzaro yielded three runs, four hits and three walks in a seven-inning start for Oakland, while Andrew Bailey (0-3) was saddled with the loss after giving up Aybar's game-winning homer.
"You really want to win that first one, especially after getting swept by the Yankees," Bailey said. "It's a tough loss. We have to do our jobs and win the next two."
The Angels have won seven of 11 meetings with Oakland this season and are 11-4 in the 15 most recent contests between the AL West foes.