Toe the Rubber: Griffin, A's pursue home-field advantage

A's call on Griffin as pursuit for home-field advantage continues

Toe the Rubber: Griffin, A's pursue home-field advantage
September 24, 2013, 4:00 pm
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A.J. Griffin is 4-0 over his last five starts, allowing 11 earned runs in 31 innings. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Programming note: A’s-Angels coverage kicks off tonight at 6:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California

The Oakland Athletics aren't satisfied with a second straight AL West title.

Jed Lowrie will try to keep them rolling and help Oakland earn a share of the best record in the league Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels.

The A's (94-63) are one game behind Boston for the best record in the AL and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

They don't appear to be letting up after clinching the West with Sunday's 11-7 win over Minnesota. Oakland followed that up by pounding out 13 hits to beat Los Angeles 10-5 in the opener of this three-game set and moved a season-best 31 games over .500.

"Just because we clinched (Sunday), that doesn't mean we're not going for more," said Tommy Milone, Monday's winning pitcher. "Home-field advantage, whatever it is. We're not going to stop."

The A's have won 11 of 13 games, including five in a row after dropping two of three at home to the Angels last week.

Lowrie is playing a vital role.

The shortstop is 10 for 28 (.357) with three homers, seven RBIs and eight runs over the past six games, homering in back-to-back contests. His three-run shot Monday was his first in 16 games at Anaheim.

Oakland sends A.J. Griffin (14-9, 3.78 ERA) to the mound hoping he can improve on his 4-0 record and 3.48 ERA over his last five starts. He's yielded one or two runs in three of those outings, including Wednesday's 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Angels. The only hit he allowed in six innings was a two-run homer by Mike Trout in the first before retiring 17 of the final 18 batters he faced.

"I'm able to repeat my delivery more often," Griffin said. "I can get the ball and let it fly."

Griffin was a 4-1 loser in his last visit to Anaheim on July 19, giving up four runs and three homers in five innings. The right-hander had won his two previous games there, yielding one run over 16 innings.

The Angels will again counter Griffin with Jason Vargas (8-7, 4.28), who allowed four runs and two homers in six innings Wednesday.

The left-hander is 0-2 with a 4.56 ERA in his last four starts versus Oakland. Lowrie is 3 for 6 off Vargas this year.

A meeting at home may not help since Vargas is 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA over his last three starts at Angel Stadium.

Some production from Trout would certainly help.

The star center fielder is 2 for 14 with six strikeouts and four walks in his past four games.

"He's just a little bit out of sync," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Maybe he's just getting a little tired. It's that part of the year where he's been grinding and playing hard. At times, you're not going to be playing locked-in, and tonight he had a couple of tough at-bats. But you've got to keep going."

Trout's struggles come after he hit one homer in each game of the previous series against the A's, totaling four hits with six RBIs.

Trout has homered on both of his hits in nine at-bats versus Griffin this year.

"He's good at baseball," Griffin said.

Oakland has won 12 of 16 in Anaheim.

 

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