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LAA@HOU: Skaggs fans five over eight in Angels debut

Don't look now, but Yoenis Cespedes may be starting to turn the corner a bit at the plate.

The first-place A's have been winning largely on pitching, and without much contribution from their slugging outfielder, who was batting .226/.286/.484 through his first eight games. But Cespedes has six hits in his last six contests, homered in back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday, and did better than his 1-for-5 linescore showed on Tuesday, hitting a double off the right-field scoreboard, lining out hard to center field and drawing a walk.

"His average isn't where he'd want it to be, but I look at the stats, and he's up there among the leaders in total bases and he's getting key RBIs for us," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Cespedes, who's ninth in the American League in total bases despite carrying a .236 batting average. "Whenever you see him do something to the [opposite] field, it's a byproduct of what he worked on in the spring."

Cespedes sports a career .884 OPS against lefties, compared to .760 against righties, so Wednesday's series-finale matchup works out perfectly for him, with the Angels sending 22-year-old Tyler Skaggs to the mound against fellow southpaw Tommy Milone.

Milone, 27, gave up five runs (three earned) on 10 hits in five innings during his 2014 debut at Safeco Field five days ago, while Skaggs has given up five runs (four earned) in 15 innings over his first two starts of the season.

The Angels, striving for a better start to the season after back-to-back miserable Aprils, have suffered key injuries to Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun, are still waiting on Albert Pujols and Jered Weaver to get fully locked in, and have posted a 5.34 bullpen ERA in the first 14 games.

"We're at a point in the season where you're just under .500, but it could be worse," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think if you look at all the things that haven't clicked, we're going to be excited when this team starts to fire on more cylinders than it is right now."

Athletics: Crisp may return Wednesday
Coco Crisp was out of the lineup for a second straight game on Tuesday because of tightness in his left hamstring, but he pinch-hit in the ninth -- flying out to center -- and A's manager Bob Melvin said pregame that the veteran center fielder is improving. Crisp could start in Wednesday's series finale. But Oakland has an off-day on Thursday, and sitting Crisp on Wednesday would give him two additional days to heal.

Angels: Calhoun expected to go on the shelf
Calhoun was just starting to get hot, serving as a big reason why the Angels have outscored opponents, 17-5, in the first inning. He entered Sunday batting .178, then recorded three consecutive multihit games and went 3-for-6 with a two-run homer in Tuesday's 10-9 loss. But the 26-year-old right fielder twisted his ankle while grounding out in the 11th inning, and now he's headed for the disabled list, alongside Josh Hamilton.

Worth noting
• Over the last 11 games at Angel Stadium, the A's have outscored the Angels, 59-39.

• The Angels' offense leads the Majors in homers with 21, but their pitchers lead the AL in homers allowed with 19. Comments