Out of organized baseball in 2006, Anaheim native Bobby Cramer used to go to Angel Stadium to watch another former Long Beach State pitcher - Jered Weaver - take the ball during his rookie season with Los Angeles.
On Wednesday, with his team trying to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss and falling behind the Angels into third place in the AL West, the Oakland Athletics 30-year-old rookie finally gets a chance to pitch at his hometown park.
Born in Anaheim and a standout at Loara High School, Cramer (2-1, 3.71 ERA) took a circuitous route to the majors, undergoing Tommy John surgery his senior season in college and even spending time as a substitute algebra teacher in Anaheim during his two years away from the game in 2005-06.
Two years ago, Cramer was pitching for the Orange County Flyers in the Independent Golden League before the A's signed him in 2009. After spending time in the Mexican League this season, Cramer posted a 1.95 ERA for Triple-A Sacramento before being called up Sept. 10.
With a chance to become the A's first pitcher since Dave Hamilton in 1972 to win his first three starts, the left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in his home debut, Friday's 10-3 loss to Texas.
Cramer has yielded five homers in three starts after giving up six in 169 2-3 minor league innings.
"You fall behind and throw a fastball here, they're going to get it," he told the A's official website. "That's what they're doing. I'm not helping my cause. I need to pitch better behind the count. I think I'm underestimating what these guys can do up here."
With the A's (77-80) on the verge of losing six in a row for the first time since an 0-7 stretch to end last season, Cramer likely won't underestimate an Angels club batting .296 and averaging 6.0 runs while winning five straight at home in this matchup.
Needing to finish at least 4-1 to avoid its first losing season since 2003, Los Angeles (77-80) will look for a quality start from Joel Pineiro (10-7, 3.96), who will make his final start of the year in the team's final home game of 2010.
Making his second start since coming off the disabled list with a left oblique strain, the right-hander threw eight innings of one-run ball in Friday's 2-1 loss to the White Sox. Pineiro retired 17 via ground out.
"That's a sinkerballer for you. He's not necessarily trying to strike out guys, but get the groundballs,'' White Sox left fielder Juan Pierre said.
In 14 innings since coming off the disabled list, Pineiro has six strikeouts and no walks.
He is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in two starts versus the A's this season.
Los Angeles clinched its third straight season series win against Oakland with Tuesday's 4-2 victory.