The success of the A's, with their low payroll among other factors, continues to surprise many in the baseball world, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia is not among them.
"[A's manager] Bob [Melvin] just understands talent," Scioscia said. "The way he's mixed and matched and the way these guys have pitched and played defense, it's been textbook. From where they were last June to where they are now, it's incredible. They've certainly taken it to us and we need to get better."
The Angels won Monday's series opener in a 12-1 rout, but have lost nine of their last 14 to Oakland, a team that appears poised to win the American League West.
While a division title seems almost inevitable with a 6 1/2-game lead over the Rangers and a magic number of seven, Melvin is not taking anything for granted and does not want his team to ease up.
"We have a bigger lead, but I'm not any more comfortable," Melvin said. "We have to finish this thing out. It's nice to win a series and gain some games, but until this thing's over, we have to play with the same intenstiy and the same focus we do every day."
And Tuesday's game is the next opportunity for Oakland, which has won eight of 10, to do exactly that.
Sonny Gray will start for the Athletics. Gray, a right-hander, has allowed more than two runs just once in his seven starts this season. Gray is 3-3 with a 2.63 ERA.
Garrett Richards will start for the Angels. The right-hander has a 3.08 ERA in 10 starts since taking Joe Blanton's spot in the rotation.
Angels: Weaver a Roberto Clemente Award nominee
Right-hander Jered Weaver is the Angels nominee for this year's Roberto Clemente Award, an annual honor presented by Major League Baseball.
The award is given to the player that "best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement."
Weaver has been involved with the Special Olympics for a long time and annually attends the Winter Games.
A's: Oakland knows not to celebrate early
The Athletics magic number is seven, but the team knows it cannot ease off the gas pedal and celebrate a playoff berth until it has actually earned one.
Oakland is 26 games over .500 and leads the division comfortably, but just a season ago it erased Texas' big lead and saw how fast a late-season lead can evaporate.
"We got so much valuable experience from how things unfolded in September last year," reliever Sean Doolittle said. "I think every time you let yourself maybe look ahead a little bit, you remember what happened last year and how we want to stay in the driver's seat and everything like that. That's going to help us in so many different ways, and that's one of the ways that's kind of keeping us grounded and keeping us focused on what we have to do each day."
• C.J. Wilson allowed one run on four hits in seven innings in the Angels' win on Monday, giving the left-hander his career-best 17th win of the year.
• Jarrod Parker took the loss for the A's on Monday, his first defeat since May 22, snapping a franchise-best 19-start unbeaten streak.
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.