Much has changed since Los Angeles Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs threw one of his best games of the season against the Oakland A's on June 15.
Skaggs has since been on the disabled list three times, while the A's morphed into the hottest team in baseball over the next three months, making up a 10-game deficit for the final American League wild-card spot and, ultimately, clinching a postseason berth on Monday.
Skaggs is scheduled to start Saturday night against the A's at Angel Stadium, the fifth time he'll take the mound against Oakland this season. He might face a different A's lineup now that they've locked up the second wild-card spot.
The New York Yankees clinched the first wild-card position and home field for the one-game playoff on Wednesday with an 11-6 win at the Boston Red Sox on Friday night. The victory came about 45 minutes after the A's started their series opener against the Angels. Oakland went on to lose 8-5.
The A's needed to sweep the Angels this weekend and hope the Red Sox swept the Yankees to send the wild-card game to Oakland.
Skaggs (8-9, 3.91 ERA) did not allow an earned run over seven innings in the 8-4 win against the A's on June 15 in Oakland. He improved to 6-4 with the victory and lowered his ERA to 2.81.
The A's, meanwhile, fell to 34-36 with the loss and dropped 10 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card spot.
Oakland (96-64) has since gone 62-28 to surge past the Angels and Mariners, clinch a playoff spot and put pressure on the Yankees up until New York's win on Friday night.
Skaggs, meanwhile, has battled groin issues most of the summer.
Saturday will be his third start since missing five weeks with a left adductor strain. The Angels (79-81) kept his pitch count in the 50s in his past two outings.
He threw three shutout innings against the A's on Sept. 18 in a 9-7 win, but wasn't nearly as sharp his next time out, allowing four runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings of a 6-2 loss to the Houston Astros last Sunday.
"Luckily, it's September, our bullpen is deep," he told MLB.com after the game. "At the same time, it's just frustrating."
Skaggs last pitched at Angel Stadium on Aug. 11, also against the A's, and was rocked for seven runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings of the 7-0 loss. That was his first start game since coming off the disabled list for a second time with an adductor strain.
He was much better against Oakland in his other two starts this season. In addition to his outing on June 15, he threw 6 1/3 shutout innings in the second game of the season, earning the victory in the 2-1 win.
For his career, Skaggs is 2-5 with a 4.98 ERA in nine starts against the A's.
Trevor Cahill is scheduled to start for Oakland. Cahill (6-4, 3.91) allowed five runs (three earned) and five hits in 3 1/3 innings of a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, which forced the A's to wait another day to clinch their playoff spot. The left-hander missed a pair of starts before that outing because of upper back discomfort.
"All things considered, I think it was a step in the right direction for him," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the game. "The last time we saw him, he was completely out of whack and hurting a little bit."
Cahill faced the Angels in Anaheim on Aug. 12 and entered the fifth inning with an 8-3 lead, but he was lifted after allowing a two-out run-scoring double, leaving him ineligible for the win in the 8-7 victory.
He is 5-3 with a 2.44 ERA in 12 career appearances (11 starts) against the Angels.
Cahill is 1/3 with a 7.02 ERA on the road this season.
Angels' Skaggs gets another shot at A's