C.J. Wilson has his sights set on starting the second half the same way he ended the first - in dominant fashion.
The potential absence of Yoenis Cespedes could make things a little easier for Wilson as he seeks his sixth victory in seven starts when the Los Angeles Angels host the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.
Wilson (9-6, 3.37 ERA) went 5-1 in his last six outings prior to the All-Star break, posting a 2.04 ERA over that stretch.
The left-hander has also been outstanding against division foes, posting a 6-2 record and 2.43 ERA in nine starts, including two against Oakland. He didn't record a decision in a 9-5 loss to the A's on April 9, allowing four runs in six innings, but won 5-4 at Oakland on May 1 after limiting the A's to two runs in 6 1-3 innings.
Wilson would love to see his team put together another big offensive output after it gave him 12 runs of support in his last start, matching his career high. He held the Chicago Cubs to one run and four hits over seven innings of a 13-2 road win July 10.
"Offense is kind of a streaky thing sometimes," Wilson said. "You have instances where you score 13 runs, which is kind of a fluke no matter how good your offense is. I feel like our offense is capable of scoring six runs a night."
Wilson might not need that many if Oakland (56-40) is again without Cespedes, who sat out Friday's 4-1 loss. The Home Run Derby winner was a late scratch due to a sore left wrist and was replaced by Chris Young , who went 1 for 4 with an RBI double in the ninth.
"It came up (Friday) in batting practice," manager Bob Melvin said of the injury. "When he was taking some swings in the cage, he still felt it, so we pulled him out."
Melvin said he didn't think it was related to the home run contest, and he won't know until Saturday if Cespedes can play.
Cespedes' .364 average versus Wilson is the highest by any current Oakland player with more than three at-bats against him.
Mike Trout , who entered the break batting .397 with 13 RBIs over his last 16 games, was one of three Angels to connect for a solo homer Friday, joining Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar . Pujols had been without an extra-base hit in his previous eight home games.
Trout will try to stay hot for the Angels (45-49) against Oakland's Dan Straily (6-2, 4.28), who is 1-0 with a 7.88 ERA in three starts versus Los Angeles. Trout is 5 for 10 off of him.
Straily also entered the break on a high note, however, winning his last two starts while yielding a run and three hits over 13 1-3 innings. He was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento following his last start - in which he threw 6 1-3 innings in a 2-1 win at Pittsburgh on July 9 - as Oakland temporarily didn't need a fifth starter because of a scheduling oddity."I could have thrown a perfect game and I was going to get optioned out," Straily said. "It's nothing personal. It's the situation we're in. It is what it is."
Despite Friday's defeat, Oakland has won 10 of 13 at Angel Stadium. The A's, though, have scored 13 runs in their last seven games.
|June 29, 2013||Jarrod Parker||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring cramp|
|June 20, 2013||Derek Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin injury|
|June 11, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|May 06, 2013||Jarrod Parker||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained neck|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|June 30, 2013||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Nondisplaced bone fracture, right wrist|
|June 29, 2013||Peter Bourjos||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist|
|June 23, 2013||Peter Bourjos||Day-to-Day||Left game - left thumb injury|
|June 21, 2013||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|June 21, 2013||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Right wrist soreness|
|June 18, 2013||Jason Vargas||15-Day DL||Blood clot, left arm|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Getting ahead of hitters has been the primary reason for C.J. Wilson's recent stretch of success.
The Los Angeles Angels ' left-hander retired 18 consecutive batters at one point during his duel with Oakland's Dan Straily , and Alberto Callaspo homered in a 2-0 victory over the Athletics 2-0 Saturday night. But at no point in the game did Wilson feel comfortable.
"Comfort is like a four-letter word in baseball. I mean, you get too comfortable and guys start whacking you all over the place. So you have to stay adamant and stay vigilant," the two-time All-Star said. "It's like workplace safety - if there hasn't been an accident in 99 days, you're looking to extend that streak. I was upset that I walked a couple of guys tonight, because the last game I didn't have any walks."
Wilson (10-6) gave up three hits in 8 1-3 innings, struck out eight and walked two. Jed Lowrie 's two-out double in the first and Nate Freiman 's leadoff single in the second were the only hits off him until Lowrie's one-out single in the ninth on Wilson's 119th and final pitch.
"My first-pitch strike percentage has been up significantly over the last couple of years, and it's something I've been getting better at as my mechanics get more refined," Wilson said. "This whole year, it's been more of a theme."
Wilson began his string of consecutive outs with three straight strikeouts on 10 pitches and didn't allow another baserunner until he walked Derek Norris on a full count leading off the eighth. He was much more pitch-efficient than teammate Jered Weaver was in his 4-1 victory Friday night.
"They ran Jered's pitch count up last night - he had like 90 pitches after four or five innings - so my game plan was to try to get ahead of them," Wilson said. "In the past, I've had a tough time doing that against them because I was too deep into counts, so I tried to turn the tables on them. I'm not one of those guys who's going to strike out everybody, so I have to use the defense as much as possible."
Ernesto Frieri got the final two outs for his 24th save in 26 chances, striking out pinch-hitter John Jaso with runners at first and second to end it.
Wilson joined Ryan Dempster and Derek Lowe as the only pitchers in major league history to post 10 or more wins as a starter in four consecutive seasons after three straight seasons with 10 or more saves. The two-time All-Star is 6-1 with a 1.70 ERA over his last seven starts.
The AL West-leading A's lost their second in a row coming out of the All-Star break. Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes sat out his second straight game because of a sore left wrist that he injured during batting practice on Friday.
"He feels better today, but until our training staff feels like he's 100 percent and not putting himself in a position where he could further injure it, it'll be day to day," manager Bob Melvin said.
Straily (6-3) allowed two runs and eight hits over seven innings, struck out four and walked none. The right-hander was 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA in his previous nine starts.
This is Straily's fifth stint with the A's this season alone. He was optioned to Triple-A the day after four of his starts - once because Bartolo Colon was reinstated from the suspended list, once because Brett Anderson went on the disabled list, another time because the team had three days off during an eight-game stretch, and again because the All-Star break was coming up.
"They're very good about letting me know what's going on. It's beneficial to me," Straily said. "I understand my job and I understand what the final goal is. I don't take it personally. I go down there and do my work. Hopefully I'm the one they call back up."
The Angels, who have won 13 straight games in which Josh Hamilton has driven in a run, opened the scoring in the first with his sacrifice fly after Mike Trout was hit by a pitch and took third on Albert Pujols ' opposite-field single. Trout extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a third-inning single, matching his longest in the majors.
Callaspo drove Straily's first pitch of the seventh inning into the first row of seats above the 18-foot wall in right field for his fifth homer.
"I just needed to throw up two more zeros than I did," Straily said. "My job is to go out there and just make pitches and keep us in the ball game as long as possible. I gave them a run in the first inning by hitting Trout. Pujols hit a good pitch and Hamilton hit the sacrifice fly. That's all they needed tonight."
NOTES: Batting practice was canceled for both teams because of a steady rain that required the rarely used tarpaulin to be put on the field. The Angels have not had a home game rained out since June 16, 1995, when the Chicago White Sox were in town. "I didn't even know there was a tarp here. Apparently, there is," A's manager Bob Melvin said. ... Straily retired Mark Trumbo on an inning-ending double-play grounder in the sixth. The Angels have grounded into an AL-worst 98 double plays, while the Athletics' defense has executed a major league-low 69 DPs.