Oakland A’s preview: The A’s go back into the lion’s den, play the Astros in Houston three more times

June 26, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

Jake Marisnick (L) of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run homer during the second inning in a 12-9 win over the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum in California on June 22, 2017. The Astros extended their winning streak to four games. (Kyodo via AP Images) ==Kyodo

by Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s swept three games from the Chicago White Sox this past weekend in the Windy City. In fact, the A’s last three series have all been sweeps. They swept four from the Yankees, were swept by the Astros, and the sweep over the Chisox. The A’s have an off-day on Monday before going to Houston to play the Astros who lead the AL West with a record of 52-25.

The A’s, who are in the midst of a youth movement, have are 7-4 in their last eleven games and are 34-42 overall. The A’s have brought up Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman, and Franklin Barreto to go along with  Chad Pinder, Ryon Healy, Matt Chapman, and Bruce Maxwell. Pinder and Chapman are currently on the DL, but the others are making their presence felt, and they are giving the long suffering A’s fans hope that the team is on the way up. Barreto was four-for-ten in the Series in Chicago. Olson had two homers in Saturday’s game, and Brugman, Barreto, and Olson hit their first big-league home runs in the same game. It was the first time that happened since 1914.

The A’s are following the playbook of the Houston Astros. That playbook was to draft good young players and bring them up to see what they could do. As the team became better, the Astros added solid veterans to beef up the hitting. Most of their pitchers were home grown, and then they sought out relievers from other clubs to strengthen the bullpen Luke Gregerson came from Oakland, and they got Ken Giles from Philadelphia.

The Astros were terrible the first year in the AL West. The A’s beat them sixteen times in 2013. The one-star player they had at the time was Jose Altuve. Since that time, they have added Carlos Correa, George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez. They have also added veteran players such as catchers Evan Gattis and Brian McCann. The Astros signed former A’s outfielder, Josh Reddick, and former Yankees DH Carlos Beltran. Both these veterans give the Astros more thump in the lineup. The Astros starting pitching has had some injury problems but Lance McCullers is back and former Cy Young Award winning pitcher, Dallas Keuchel, should return soon. Keuchel will be in contention for the award again this year as he was having a good year before he was injured.

The A’s will send lefty Sean Manaea to the hill Tuesday night. Manaea was 5-0 in his last six starts before losing to Houston at home last Wednesday. Mike Fiers will pitch for Houston Tuesday night. Fiers is 4-0 with an ERA of just 1.72 in his last five starts.Jesse Hahn starts on Wednesday for the A’s. Hahn was rocked for ten runs last Thursday in Oakland. Hahn hit Houston’s leadoff hitter, George Springer with a fastball and that seemed to unnerve Hahn.

The Astros will counter with David Paulino who also beat the A’s last week. Thursday’s finale will feature Jharel Cotton going against Brad Peacock. Cotton picked up his fifth win of the year beating the White Sox last week. There was a sour note as Cotton had to leave the game in the sixth inning with a blister on his right thumb. Brad Peacock, who also picked up a win against Oakland las week, will handle the pitching chore for Houston.

The A’s, who have woeful on the road this year, really played well in Chicago as they won three straight on the road for the first time this year. The Chicago White Sox, however, are not the Houston Astros. If the A’s win two out three, the confidence will be there knowing that this team is on the rise. Let’s hope that the young men waering Green and Gold end the road trip on a high note.

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About rxslugger

Retired pharmacist who now has a career as a sports writer and broadcaster

View all posts by rxslugger

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