MLB Oakland Athletics

Preview: Keys to Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels Series

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Rivals to Battle in First 2013 Matchup

A's vs. Angels
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow night, Jarrod Parker will match up with C.J. Wilson for the first of many battles between the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels.

The A's ride into Anaheim feeling relatively good, having swept the Houston Astros over the weekend and riding a five-game winning streak. The Angels meanwhile,  haven't really gotten going yet in the first week of the season, losing four out of six games to the Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers over the weekend.

However, Tuesday night's game will be a high-octane battle: it's the Angels' home opener, and it will be the fans' first opportunity to welcome newcomer Josh Hamilton to their home ballpark. There's no doubt it will be a loud, boisterous atmosphere at Angel Stadium.

The defending AL West champs and the hungry Angels are poised to do battle many times this season as heated division foes, and there's no reason to assume this first series will be anything other than three more hard-fought, tightly-contested battles. The A's won't be facing Jered Weaver, which is good, but they'll still have to deal with Wilson, Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas (who always seemed to dominate them when he was on the Seattle Mariners).

The A's will counter with Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin. Parker struggled a bit in his first start against Seattle, but Milone and Griffin both pitched well in their respective outings.

This early in the season, it's easy to write off series such as this as pedestrian, but intra-division battles are always important come September. What do the A's have to do to emerge victorious with a series win or sweep? Click the slides to find out.

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Josh Reddick's Wrist - Will He Play?

Josh Reddick
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Outfielder Josh Reddick left Sunday's game after violently crashing into the outfield wall pursuing a fly ball. Thankfully, he only sprained his right wrist — although it looked a lot worse when it happened.

He's officially day-to-day, and if he's able to get back out there in the A's lineup at some point during this series, it'll help the team's chances of putting up enough runs to battle the Halos.

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Jed Lowrie - Continue the Hot Hitting

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Jed Lowrie has been the A's most consistent offensive performer thus far, and it continued in Houston. He had a few three-hit games and is now batting .500, comfortably nestled in the two-spot in the lineup (or cleanup, as he was Sunday with Yoenis Cespedes being given the day off).

If he can continue his torrid play, it'll go a long way.

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Yoenis Cespedes - Time to Break Out

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Cespedes has struggled a bit in the early going, posting an average under .200 and battling some timing issues with off-speed pitches. He also felt some discomfort with his elbow over the weekend but assured the team he was fine, saying "don't worry".  Needless to say, if he shows up offensively in the Angels series, the A's will be in a good situation.

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Jarrod Parker - Focus

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Parker, who will pitch on Tuesday, wasn't very sharp against Seattle in his season debut. If he focuses and delivers the kind of performance that he turned in throughout the 2012 season, he'll have a good chance to end up with his first 2013 win.

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Contain Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Hamilton is coming off an emotional weekend, returning to Texas and being mercilessly booed by Rangers fans angered by his decision to leave for Anaheim. He's off to a typically slow start with the bat, but did record three hits on Sunday night. He'll want to make a splashy debut for the home fans, and the A's will have to contain him if they want to win.

Adrian Garro is an Oakland Athletics writer for Follow him on Twitter