A big series? Perhaps. The A's are the two-time defending division champions, a balanced and battle-tested team the Angels must overcome to claim their first AL West title since 2009.
A huge series? Angels catcher
"It's May, man," said Angels second baseman
"Every game is important. They're playing well, we're playing well, but at the end of the day, it comes down to winning games, whether it's the A's, Seattle, Houston, anybody. We've got to win games."
The Angels did not win a game Friday night. They didn't really come close.
First-inning singles by
Richards, who allowed one homer in 66 innings of his first 10 starts, gave up singles to
"It's embarrassing—I didn't show up for us tonight," Richards said. "I didn't give us a chance to win. I put us in a hole early."
The A's and Angels played three one-run games in Anaheim in April, but Oakland seemed to assert itself as the alpha team Friday, using its typically solid pitching and contributions throughout the lineup to push their division lead to 21/2 games over the Angels.
"They have a lot of guys who get on base, a lot of guys who come up with big hits, and if one guy doesn't get it done, the next guy comes up and thinks he's going to get it done," Kendrick said. "Not everybody can do it all the time. That's why you have nine guys in the lineup and guys on the bench who can step up and do different things."
What the A's do better than most is pitch. They entered Friday leading the major leagues in earned-run average (2.89) and opponents batting average (.221), on-base percentage (.284), slugging percentage (.333) and average with runners in scoring position (.187).
And that's without two of their top starters,
"They've always been able to acquire and develop good pitching," Kendrick said, "whether they're winning or not."
Despite Friday's loss, the Angels could pose the greatest threat to the A's, their deeper rotation, bullpen and lineup leading to a five-game improvement from their 25-29 record through 54 games last season.
"They have a good team," Oakland Manager Bob Melvin said. "They made good acquisitions in the off-season. Pitching-wise, they're completely different from last year. They're stronger in the back of the bullpen. They're stronger in the rotation.
"And they're not relying on one or two guys offensively to carry the load. You look at C.J. Cron and Grant Green. They're swinging the bat really well. So is Kendrick. It's not just [