The Oakland Athletics’ quest for their first winning full month of the season continues Saturday afternoon when they pursue a second straight victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels.
The A’s (40-95) began September the same way they opened the season in March, beating the Angels (64-71). After squeaking by 2-1 on March 30, the A’s took a louder route on Friday, winning 9-2. JP Sears threw six shutout innings, while Esteury Ruiz and Jordan Diaz combined for two singles, three doubles and a home run in a 14-hit attack.
Oakland’s best full month of the season was June, when it went 10-16 (.385). The A’s were just 9-18 (.333) in August.
Saturday’s rematch features a pair of right-handers, California natives Griffin Canning (7-4, 4.38 ERA) of the Angels and Paul Blackburn (3-4, 3.93) of the A’s.
Canning earned a 5-3 home win over the A’s on April 25, a game in which he allowed three runs in five innings with seven strikeouts. He has started eight games against the A’s in his career, going 2-3 with a 4.79 ERA.
The 27-year-old is 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA over his past five starts, a stretch in which he has allowed two or fewer runs four times. He has 39 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings over that span.
Canning will be seeing an A’s team that ran up a season-best eight doubles on Friday.
Oakland manager Mark Kotsay loved Sears’ six shutout innings, but they were overshadowed by a burst of offense he hopes is the start of something big.
“The at-bats were great,” he said. “It’s great to see these young kids taking good at-bats and passing the baton. We’re feeding off each other right now.
“All the way down the lineup … they had a great mindset, a great approach. They came out ready to play, and it showed.”
Hoping for similar support will be Blackburn, who has allowed two or fewer earned runs in three consecutive starts, going 1-1 over that span with a 1.89 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 19 innings.
The 29-year-old has never lost in his career against the Angels, going 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts.
Blackburn will be getting his first look at Angels shortstop Kyren Paris, who was promoted from Double-A Rocket City in Madison, Ala., to make his major league debut on Friday night in front of family and friends.
A product of Freedom High in the Oakland suburb of Oakley, the 21-year-old went 0-for-2 with a walk, setting up the possibility that his first big-league hit will come off Blackburn, a 2012 graduate of Freedom’s rival, Heritage High of Brentwood.
Blackburn was a first-round pick straight out of high school in 2012. Paris, who says his favorite player growing up was A’s outfielder Coco Crisp, likewise skipped college when he was selected in the second round by the Angels in 2019.
“It’s a leap that they prepare us for,” Paris said of the jump from the minors. “We put in work every day down at Double-A, and they do a great job. They really prepare us, and that’s the ultimate goal — to get here and be ready.”
–Field Level Media