Speedster Esteury Ruiz bids to steal win for Athletics vs. Angels

Field Level Media

September 30, 2023 at 12:26 pm.

With both teams destined for the bottom two spots in the American League West, the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics are looking for some personal bests as the clubs continue their season-ending series Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif.

After a 5-1 victory on Friday, Los Angeles holds a 6-5 edge in the season series. The Angels are 72-88 overall after putting up a 16-37 record since Aug. 1. The A’s are 49-111, the second-worst record in franchise history since the Philadelphia Athletics lost 117 games in 1916.

But on the bright side: Oakland speedster Esteury Ruiz is the American League’s stolen-base king this season. His 65 steals are second in the majors to Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. (72). The AL runner-up to Ruiz is Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. with 49 steals.

Ruiz remains one stolen base away from tying the AL rookie record of 66, set by Kenny Lofton in 1992.

Ruiz, 24, stole two bases against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday to reach 65. He was caught stealing for the 13th time in his sole attempt Wednesday and didn’t start Thursday before going 0-for-4 against the Angels on Friday.

Ruiz has six steals against Los Angeles this season, including four vs. Angels backup catcher Matt Thaiss in an 11-3 loss in Anaheim on April 26.

All-Star Brent Rooker stands on 29 homers, one shy of being the first Oakland player to reach 30 in a season since Matt Olson smashed 39 in 2021.

“(Rooker) is definitely finishing the way he started and showing he deserves to be in the lineup every day,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said.

The Angels received a boost Friday when slugging outfielder Mickey Moniak returned from the injured list after missing more than three weeks with back tightness.

Moniak, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, is enjoying his first full season in the majors. He never had more than 106 at-bats in a single major league season, but he’s among the Angels’ offensive leaders this season with a .282 batting average, 14 home runs and an .809 OPS.

The lefty-swinging Moniak’s homer Friday off Oakland’s Ken Waldichuk was the first of his 18 career long balls off a left-handed pitcher.

“It’s cool to get the first one out of the way,” Moniak told reporters. “Maybe people will start thinking I could possibly hit lefties. Maybe not. It’s up to me to prove them wrong.”

Angels rookie leadoff man Nolan Schanuel extended his on-base streak at the start of his career to 28 games with a walk and a single on Friday.

It’s the fourth-longest such streak in major-league history behind Alvin Davis (47 in 1984), Truck Hannah (38 in 1918) and Enos Slaughter (29 in 1938), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The A’s will send right-hander Joe Boyle (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound on Saturday for his third career start.

Boyle has yet to face Los Angeles. He pitched six innings last Saturday, allowing one run on five hits with five strikeouts en route to recording his first career win in a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Angels manager Phil Nevin didn’t announce his starting pitchers for the rest of the series.

Nevin said left-hander Kenny Rosenberg (2-2, 4.50 ERA) would pitch Saturday, but the manager did not specify whether it would be as a starter or a bulk reliever. Rosenberg has yet to face the A’s in his career.

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