Angels-Athletics Preview

If the Los Angeles Angels are to contend in an expectedly top-heavy AL West, they'll need to rely on more than just Mike Trout.

They're doing just that during a three-game winning streak they'll bring into Wednesday's series finale with the Oakland Athletics.

Losses in four of the first five games seemed to signal the beginning of a potentially long season for the Angels (4-4), but they've bounced back well despite Trout's 5 for 27 start. After receiving strong pitching performances from Jered Weaver and Nick Tropeano over the first two games of the streak, the bats came alive during the final two innings of Tuesday's 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the A's.

The Angels scored twice in the eighth before going ahead on Geovany Soto's two-run homer off Sean Doolittle in the ninth.

''It shows that's what we're all about, we never stop, we're always going to keep coming after you,'' Soto said. ''You have to beat us 27 outs. It's a good quality to have and it's a good model that we're trying to establish.''

Another win would give the Angels their first three-game sweep in Oakland since Sept. 3-5, 2012, though they may need Matt Shoemaker to improve off a rough season debut to achieve the feat.

Shoemaker allowed six runs and seven hits in three-plus innings in Friday's 7-3 loss to Texas, displaying the same problems that led to a disappointing 2015 campaign and a poor spring. The right-hander allowed 24 home runs in 135 1-3 innings while finishing 7-10 last season and nine in 25 innings in posting a 6.84 ERA during spring training.

The 29-year-old is still trying to recapture the form that produced a 16-4 record and 3.04 ERA and a runner-up finish for the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Shoemaker was 1-2 with a 6.04 ERA in five 2015 starts against the A's, surrendering five homers in 25 1-3 innings. He did yield just one run over seven innings in a 6-2 win at Oakland on Sept. 1.

Marcus Semien, who homered twice on Tuesday, is 5 for 12 with a homer off Shoemaker, while Stephen Vogt has two homers in 15 at-bats against him.

Oakland (4-5) had won three straight prior to a 4-1 loss in Monday's opener and entered Tuesday's game with a 1.86 bullpen ERA before Doolittle and Ryan Madson allowed four runs. The A's had the lowest save percentage (52.8) in the majors during a 94-loss 2015 season.

''They had some pretty good hitters get some good at-bats off `em,'' manager Bob Melvin said. ''Both guys looked good out there. The bullpen's been great. You gotta give them credit, too.''

Oakland's rotation has performed well despite injuries to Henderson Alvarez and Felix Doubront, who underwent Tommy John surgery Tuesday. Kendall Graveman yielded a run on four hits over six innings Tuesday.

Eric Surkamp gets a second crack at filling Doubront's spot after an effective spot start in Friday's 3-2 win at Seattle. The journeyman left-hander, signed to a minor league contract in December, held the Mariners scoreless through four innings before permitting two runs in the fifth.

The start was Surkamp's first in the majors since July 23, 2013, with San Francisco. He made 35 relief appearances with the White Sox in 2014 and one with the Dodgers last season.


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