(OAKLAND) -- There's a lot on the line tonight in Oakland.
The host Athletics and the visiting Los Angeles Angels are tied for the American League West lead with the best record in baseball (76-52), and in front of a national audience, one of them is going home with the division lead.
Scott Kazmir (14-5, 2.73) faces Jered Weaver (13-7, 3.70), as the A's will try to sweep this three-game series against their Southern California rivals. Oakland came into the series in a tailspin, losers of eight in ten, and behind L.A. two games in the standings.
But after wins on Friday and Saturday nights, the A's have pulled back into the division lead they held solo from mid-April through last weekend. And they probably want it back, for good.
Oakland was on Sunday Night Baseball last Sunday in Atlanta, too, but the club came out on the wrong end of a 4-3 decision. Back at home, the A's have won three of four to seemingly get their mojo back—they want to keep it going tonight, before they head out on the road again for seven games next week, including four in Anaheim against these very Angels.
Los Angeles has dropped eight of 11 contents against Oakland this year, so they seem to have a "thing" with the A's in 2014. Weaver, too, is struggling: he hasn't gone seven innings in a start in the last month.
These are two of the top three scoring teams in baseball this year: Oakland is first with 615 runs, and L.A. is third with 596 runs. Meanwhile, the A's team ERA is fourth in the majors (3.23), and the Angels are 12th (3.58).
The two teams know each other well, and they are comparably matched. And of course, sweeps are hard against any team, let alone a good one. And the A's have not swept a series of three or more games since sweeping a four-game series from Toronto here in early July.
Oakland does have the best home record in the majors right now (43-22). We will see how that plays out in front of a sellout crowd tonight. The A's will be without Sean Doolittle, who was placed on the disabled list after suffering an injury last night in the ninth inning.
The club also acquired Texas catcher Geovany Soto, but he won't join club until tomorrow in Houston when the A's kick off a three-game series against the Astros.
Tonight, Game time is 5:05 p.m.