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By Jerry Feitelberg
The Oakland A’s have a day off on Thursday before they begin a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field starting on Friday.
The A’s are enjoying an entire week in the Windy City as the schedule makers gave them three days with the Cubs, one day off, and three with the White Sox. The A’s finish the eight-game road trip with two against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park next Tuesday and Wednesday.
The A’s need to continue playing well. They trail the Tampa Bay Rays by 1/2 game in the race for the second Wild Card. The A’s swept the White Sox when they met in July at the Oakland Coliseum. They would like to continue their success against the Sox. They need to take two from the Giants as the A’s meet the AL West-leading Houston Astros for four. They then play the AL East-leading New York Yankees for three, and wrap up the homestand with two more against the Giants. The Astros have dominated the A’s this season. They improved their starting rotation at the deadline with the additions of Zach Greinke and Aaron Sanchez. Joe Biagini joined the Astros bullpen.
The A’s will send Mike Fiers to the hill Friday afternoon against the White Sox. Fiers is 10-3 and has an ERA of 3.46. He has been pitching well since early May. He faced the Sox on July 12th and did not allow a run in 7 2/3 innings of work. He will be opposed by former Athletic, Ross Detwiler. Detwiler was a member of the A’s in 2016. Detwiler is 1-2 for the year and has an ERA of 5.72. In his last start against the Philadelphia Phillies, Detwiler went 5 2/3 innings and allowed just two runs.
On Saturday, Tanner Roark will be making his second start as an Athletic, and his first start ever against the White Sox. Roark is 7-7 for the year and has an ERA of 4.14. Roark won his first start as an A last Sunday when he went five innings and allowed just one hit, and as a result, received credit for the win.
Meanwhile, the White Sox will have Reynaldo Lopez handling the pitching chores. Lopez is 6-9 with an ERA of 5.41. Lopez has been pitching well since the All-Star break. In his last five starts, his ERA is a respectable 2.56.
On Sunday, Chris Bassitt will go for Oakland, and he will be opposed by the White Sox’ best pitcher, Lucas Giolito. Bassitt is 7-5 and pitched well Monday against the Chicago Cubs. Bassitt went six innings and allowed two runs. He did not figure in the decision. Giolito is 12-5 for the season. His ERA is 3.44. He beat the Detroit Tigers last Monday as he went six innings and allowed three runs.
The White Sox are 51-62 for the year and are currently in third place in the AL Central. The team is managed by Rick Renteria. Renteria is in his third season with the Sox. He and Frank Chance are the only two managers in history to have managed both the Cubs and the White Sox.
Chicago’s key players to keep an eye on are first baseman Jose Abreu, shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez, and catcher Wellington Castillo. Abreau and Jimenez are the main power guys. Tim Anderson has 12 homers this season, and he can also do damage. Other players to watch are outfielders Leury Garcia, Ryan Cordell, Adam Engel, and the veteran John Jay.
The A’s have won seven of the last 10 games. They need Matt Chapman to break out of his slump. They still have a lot of power in the lineup. Matt Olson is second on the club with 22 home runs. Marcus Semien has 19. The A’s will have Khris Davis back at DH for the series with the Sox. Davis has 17, but his production has declined since he suffered a hip injury in Pittsburgh. Mark Canha has picked up the slack as he has hit 17 so far this year.
The A’s have 10 players on the roster with 10 or more homers. The A’s have to continue winning. It would be nice if they could take four out of five from the Sox and the Giants. They have to contend with the Astros, which is no easy task. The Astros have an outstanding starting rotation. They have a virtual All-Star team on the field. They are loaded with stars such as Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Yule Guriel, Michael Brantley, George Springer, and Josh Reddick.
The A’s then have a day off to catch their breath and then go up against the mighty Yankees. The A’s will have to be at their best just to keep up with the Rays. A’s manager Bob Melvin will have his team ready. This is the time of the year that the fans will be seeing great baseball.