The A’s are looking to bounce back after losing both of their games against the Mariners in the Japan Opening Series from March 20-21, while the Angels are aiming to get off to a positive start under new manager Brad Ausmus when the two clubs meet in a traditional Opening Day matchup on Thursday.
Right-hander Mike Fiers will essentially be making his second Opening Day start of the year after allowing five runs in three innings against Seattle in Tokyo. The Angels counter with former A’s right-hander Trevor Cahill, who has a career 3.01 ERA in 61 starts at the Oakland Coliseum.
It’ll also be the first game for Angels superstar Mike Trout since signing his 12-year, $426.5 million extension on March 20. Trout is a career .310/.399/.578 hitter with 30 homers, 28 stolen bases and 72 RBIs in 124 games against the A's.
Both clubs are trying to compete with the favored Astros in the American League West. The A’s are coming off an appearance in the AL Wild Card Game while the Angels won 80 games in 2018 despite injuries ravaging their rotation. The Angels went 10-9 against the A's last year and how they fare against each other this year could be a major factor in how their playoff hopes unfold.
When is the game and how can I watch it?
The game is at 1:07 p.m. PT at the Oakland Coliseum and will be broadcast on both NBC Sports California and Fox Sports West as well as KTRB 860 AM and KLAA AM 830. Out-of-market fans can also watch the game on MLB.TV.
The starting lineups
Angels: Notably absent from the Angels will be left fielder Justin Upton, who will open the year on the injured list after suffering a left turf toe injury while running into the wall at Angel Stadium in a Freeway Series game against the Dodgers on Sunday. Shohei Ohtani will also be out after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1. Ohtani should return in May as the club’s regular designated hitter. David Fletcher and Tommy La Stella are likely to platoon at second base with La Stella seeing action against right-handers.
1) Kole Calhoun, RF
2) Mike Trout, CF
3) Andrelton Simmons, SS
4) Justin Bour, 1B
5) Albert Pujols, DH
6) Zack Cozart, 3B
7) Jonathan Lucroy, C
8) Peter Bourjos, LF
9) Tommy La Stella, 2B
A's: Scoring runs shouldn't be a problem for Oakland. Matt Chapman looks primed for a big year and Khris Davis has hit more homers than anyone in the Major Leagues in the last three years. The two are also surrounded by hitters who are approaching their peak or just beginning to ascend, such as Ramón Laureano, Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien. Chad Pinder and Mark Canha would be everyday players on virtually every other Major League club. The A's acquired infielder Kendrys Morales from the Blue Jays on Wednesday, answering the club's question mark at first while Matt Olson is on the injured list (right hand).
1) Ramón Laureano, CF
2) Matt Chapman, 3B
3) Stephen Piscotty, RF
4) Khris Davis, DH
5) Mark Canha, 1B
6) Jurickson Profar, 2B
7) Marcus Semien, SS
8) Chad Pinder, LF
9) Nick Hundley, C
Who are the starting pitchers?
Angels: Cahill will get his second career Opening Day start after getting his first with the A’s in 2011. The veteran right-hander, who signed with the Angels this offseason on a one-year deal worth $9 million, pitched with Oakland from 2009-11 and again last year but has never pitched there as a visitor. Cahill is coming off a solid year that saw him post a 3.76 ERA with 100 strikeouts, 41 walks and eight homers allowed in 110 innings with the A's and is familiar working with Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who was his teammate in Oakland last year. One of the better groundball specialists in the game, Cahill still leans heavy on his sinker but has been working to add a cutter into the mix.
A's: Fiers gets a chance for an Opening Day do-over by receiving the stateside starting assignment in Oakland. He started the first game in Japan and yielded five runs on four hits in three innings. Fiers impressed the A's last year by finishing 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) down the stretch, prompting Oakland to re-sign him for two years and $14.1 million. Fiers is 4-2 with a 3.84 ERA in 12 lifetime appearances (11 starts) at the Coliseum and owns a 3-4 record with a 5.82 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) against the Angels.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Angels: A parade of hard throwers will come out of the Angels' bullpen, including Hansel Robles, Luis Garcia, Justin Anderson and Ty Buttrey, in addition to newly-signed closer Cody Allen. The club doesn’t have a lefty reliever, however, as veteran Dan Jennings was released on Tuesday and fellow lefty Williams Jerez was traded to the Giants for right-hander Chris Stratton, who will open the year as the club’s fifth starter.
A's: Manager Bob Melvin has some fairly effective options to get to Blake Treinen, who might be the best closer in baseball. Melvin can call upon former closers Fernando Rodney and Joakim Soria, both accustomed to getting big outs. Right-hander Lou Trivino, one of the best relievers nobody knows about, might be better than either of them. Then it all comes down to Treinen, the first big leaguer to record at least 30 saves with an ERA under 1.00 while amassing at least 100 strikeouts.
Any injuries of note?
Angels: Outside of Upton and Ohtani, the Angels will be without lefty Andrew Heaney (left elbow inflammation), outfielder Michael Hermosillo (sports hernia surgery) and reliever Taylor Cole (right shoulder inflammation). Right-hander Felix Peña is replacing Heaney in the rotation, while Hermosillo likely would’ve made the roster if healthy after Upton’s injury. Cole was battling for a spot in the bullpen but suffered the injury late in camp.
A's: Oakland will miss Olson, their multitalented first baseman who underwent surgery to have a hamate bone removed and is expected to miss four to eight weeks. Olson was the A's glue last year, hitting 29 home runs, appearing in all 162 games and playing Gold Glove Award-winning defense. The Angels might have seen left-hander Jesus Luzardo, Oakland's top pitching prospect, at some juncture during this series, but Luzardo, who appeared destined to secure a starting berth, was ordered to rest for at least four weeks after experiencing tenderness in his shoulder.
Who is hot and who is not?
Angels: Lucroy, Calhoun and Pujols each had solid springs offensively and Bour led the team in homers in Cactus League play. Simmons struggled at the plate this spring but Ausmus said he's not worried because of Simmons' track record.
A's: Semien went 4-for-8 in the pair of games in Tokyo against the Mariners. Canha swung the bat well in the Bay Bridge Series of exhibitions against the Giants.
Anything else fans might want to know?
• With Upton out, Fletcher could also see action in left field, as he worked at that position in Spring Training. But Bourjos is more likely to see time in left, while Fletcher can be used at second and third base, especially with Cozart coming off a left calf strain.
• The A's are making the most of the season's first weekend. Thursday is Opening Day; Friday is Opening Night.
Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.
Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.