Preview of the A’s series against the Pirates

Photo credit: @Athletics

By Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s are in Pittsburgh to start a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates beginning Friday evening. The A’s are on the last leg of a nine-game road trip. Things have not gone well for the Green and Gold as they have lost all six games played so far. They were swept by the Blue Jays in Toronto and by the Red Sox in Boston. They will be going up against a team that is in fourth place in the NL Central Division. The Pirates, under the tutelage of manager Clint Hurdle, are 14-14 so far this year.

The A’s and Pirates have been playing baseball for many, many years. The A’s started playing in the AL in 1901, and have won 15 pennants and nine World Series in their long and storied history. The Pirates joined the NL in 1887 and played in the first World Series against the Red Sox in 1903. The Pirates have won nine NL pennants and five World Series. The won the World Series in 1979 and have not been back since. The Pirates, from 1993 to 2012 had 20 consecutive losing seasons. Hurdle, named manager before the 2011 season, took the Pirates to the playoffs in 2013. He was named NL Manager of the Year for his efforts.

The A’s will enter Friday night’s game with a record of 14-19. They are in the midst of a six-game losing streak. Also, they are 4-13 on the road this year. Since they will be playing in an NL park, they will not be able to utilize the designated hitter. Their DH, Khris Davis, probably will play left field for the three games.

The A’s will send lefty Brett Anderson (3-2, 4.35 ERA) to the mound Friday night. Anderson will be trying to get back on track as he has not completed five innings of work in his last two starts. However, he has a record of 1-0, and a 1.38 ERA in two career starts at PNC Park. Pittsburgh will counter with former Houston Astros hurler Joe Musgrove. Musgrove came to Pittsburgh in the trade that sent Gerrit Cole to Houston. Musgrove is 1-2 with a 1.54 ERA. He has five quality starts so far this year, and he allowed 3 runs (one earned) over 6 2/3 innings of work in the loss to the Dodgers last Saturday.

Game two will feature the A’s Chris Bassitt (1-0, 0.75 ERA) going against the Bucs’ Trevor Williams. Bassitt has allowed just one run over his last two starts. Williams has completed at least six innings in each of his six starts this season.

The A’s will send Frankie Montas to the hill on Sunday. Montas has been the A’s best pitcher. His record is 4-2 and he has a 2.97 ERA. Montas took the loss against Boston in his last outing. His work was undone by an error by the second baseman Jurickson Profar, and the Red Sox were able to put six runs on the board. A’s manager Bob Melvin was seen giving Montas a pat on the back and saying that he was pitching and well and that the error was part of baseball and to not get upset. The Pirates’ Jordan Lyles (2-1, 2.42 ERA) will try to get the win for the Bucs. Lyles has a 2.25 ERA in three starts at PNC Park.

Since the A’s don’t see the Pirates very often, some players will be unfamiliar to the A’s fans. The Pirate infield will be manned by first baseman Josh Bell. Bell is one of the stars in the Pirate lineup. Second base will be handled by either Adam Frazier or Cole Moran. Cole Tucker is at shortstop, and Jung Ho Kang will start at third. Colin Moran also plays third for Pittsburgh.

The Pirates will play Starlin Marte in center field. Marte got off to a slow start and is hitting just .198. However, he is a significant player for Pittsburgh as the team is 12-5 when he is in the lineup and 1-9 when he isn’t. The A’s may see rookie Brian Reynolds at an outfield slot during the season. Reynolds was drafted by the San Francisco Giants and came to Pittsburgh when the Giants traded for Andrew McCutchen before the start of the 2018 season. In his first nine games, Reynolds has six doubles and a home run, and this is something no other player has done in nearly 100 years. One player whose name is familiar to A’s fans will be in right field. VMelky Cabrera will see time in the outfield this weekend against the A’s.

The A’s are hoping that their offense comes to life this weekend in Pittsburgh. The attack did very little against Toronto and Boston. They did show a sign of life in the ninth inning against the Red Sox, but it was a case of too little, too late. The A’s know that the offense goes into a funk at times over the course of 162 games. They are hoping that the bats will wake up against the Pirates. It should be a good series.

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