Mike Trout may be slumping, but the Los Angeles Angels are rolling.
Given Trout's recent history at Oakland Coliseum, he could catch fire too Friday night as the Angels look to extend their advantage in the AL West when they open a three-game series with the Athletics.
The Angels (76-50) own a two-game edge over Oakland (74-52) and have won eight of nine after their first four-game sweep in Boston since 1962. Los Angeles' pitchers own a 2.70 ERA over the last nine games and Matt Shoemaker held the Red Sox hitless for 6 2-3 of his 7 2-3 innings in Thursday's 2-0 victory.
Though Trout's 89 RBIs rank third in the majors, he's 5 for 36 in that 8-1 stretch and 9 for 57 (.158) over his last 14 games with 20 strikeouts.
However, he's batting .357 over his last 10 games in Oakland with six home runs and 16 RBIs and homered in his lone game there this year.
These clubs haven't met since the Angels took two of three in Anaheim from June 9-11. Oakland totaled one run in each of its losses after tallying 26 runs in a three-game home sweep from May 30-June 1.
The Athletics (74-52) have lost eight of 10 with their starters posting a 5.08 ERA. All but one of those losses came on the road, though, so a return home should prove favorable. Oakland is a major league-best 35-14 at home since May 7.
Sonny Gray (12-7, 2.99 ERA) has lost four straight starts with a 4.94 ERA. Previously he had only lost consecutive starts once through his first 31 career outings.
Gray gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-3 road loss to Atlanta on Saturday. It marked the second time in three outings he failed to complete at least six innings after doing so in 20 of his previous 22 games.
He beat the Angels in a 6-3 home victory on June 1, allowing three runs in 6 2-3 innings. He didn't factor into the decision in his only other start against Los Angeles, yielding a run over six innings in a 2-1 victory on Sept. 17.
Trout is 1 for 4 versus Gray, though the lone hit was a home run.
Los Angeles will counter with Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.46). The left-hander is undefeated over his last 11 appearances - eight starts - with a 2.45 ERA, though he also has just three victories in that span. The Angels have lost his last three outings, but have supplied him with just five runs of support over 17 1-3 innings.
He yielded a run and four hits over six innings of Los Angeles' 3-2 defeat at Texas on Sunday. Santiago was in line for the victory before Huston Street's blown save.
"There's no doubt about his ability to throw strikes and I think he's commanding counts better," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's been keeping guys off-balance. He's been pitching good baseball."
Santiago is 1-0 in three starts versus Oakland, allowing two earned runs over 19 1-3 innings. He didn't receive a decision in either matchup this year while yielding eight hits in 13 innings
Josh Donaldson is 3 for 20 over his last six games and 1 for 8 versus Santiago.
Howie Kendrick, who went 5 for 9 over the last two games against Boston, is 3 for 7 against Gray. He has also hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games at Oakland with nine RBIs.