By Jerry Feitelberg
Oakland- The Oakland A’s begin a stretch of eight interleague games starting with the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night at the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s play three with the Brewers, are off on Friday, and play two in Oakland against the St.Louis Cardinals. The A’s then go to Chicago for a week. They play three with the Cubs and three with the Whites Sox.
The Brewers come to town with a record of 56-51. They are currently in third place in the NL Central. They trail the Cardinals and the Cubs by one game for the lead in the division.
The Brewers have a very potent offensive lineup. Their start player is the reigning National League MVP, Christian Yelich. Yelich is having another MVP caliber year. He is hitting .337 and has hit 36 home runs and driven in 80. He has also stolen 23 bases. He is joined in the outfield by former Kansas City Royals’ center fielder, Lorenzo Cain. Another former NL MVP, Ryan Braun, will either play in the outfield or DH. Braun is hitting .271 with 15 homers, and 49 RBIs A’s fans can expect to see the former Dodger, Yasmani Grandal, behind the plate. Grandal is having an excellent season.as his average is .258, and he has hit 19 homers, and driven in 54. Another power guy for the Brewers is the third baseman Mike Moustakas. The former Royal is hitting .261, and he has sent 26 balls out the park and has knocked in 60. Other key players for the Brewers are second baseman Keston Hiura, Eric Thames and Travis Shaw at first base, and Orlando Arcia is at shortstop.
The big problem for the Brewers has been their starting rotation. Three of the five starters have been on the IL. Lefty Gio Gonzalez, who once pitched for the A’s, has a record of 2-1 but has just come off the IL. Starters Jhoulys Chacin and Jimmy Nelson are still on the IL and will not be available to pitch. Zach Davies, who pitched on Sunday against the Cubs probably will not see action against the A’s. Chase Anderson pitched last Saturday, and he may be available on Thursday. The Brewers have not announced who will pitch for Milwaukee against the A’s. The Brewers bullpen will be manned by Adrian Houser, who may be used as a starter, Jeremy Jeffress, Freddy Peralta, Taylor Williams, former starter Junior Guerra, Matt Albers, lefty Alex Claudio, and the closer’s spot is held by lefty Josh Hader. Hader has 23 saves in 25 chances.
The A’s are 60-47 for the season are in a dogfight for the second Wild Card spot with the Tampa Bay Rays, and Boston Red Sox. The Los Angeles Angels trail the A’s by five games but are playing well. They could be a factor.
The A’s rotation for the series with Milwaukee shapes up this way. Chriss Bassitt (7-5, 4.09 ERA will go for Oakland. Bassitt pitched well against the Astros, but a pair of two-run dingers did him in. Lefty Brett Anderson goes on Wednesday. Anderson is 9-6 with an ERA of 4.05. Anderson had a rough outing last week due to lack of sleep after the birth of his son. On Thursday, Daniel Mengdenn (5-2, 4.85 ERA) will try to get back on track. Mengden has been struggling with his command lately, In his last two games, he walked nine. To be successful, he has to be more consistent and throw strikes.
The A’s have played three tough teams in the last 2 weeks. The split the series in Minnesota with the Twins, lost two out three to the Astros, and split the four-game series with the Rangers. The Brewers have a lot to play for as do the A’s. I expect to see a well-played exciting series. If the A’s are to win, their pitching will be the key.