Oakland A’s starter Sean Manaea gets the call on Tue May 18, 2021 against the Houston Astros who will try to rebound after his last rough outing against the Boston Red Sox (AP File Photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
OAKLAND- The Oakland A’s returned home to the Bay Area after finishing a six-game road trip to Boston and Minnesota. The A’s won four and lost two on the trip. The A’s are in first place in the AL West with a record of 25-17. Their opponent for the next three games will be the Houston Astros (24-17) starting Tuesday night at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Astros trail the A’s by 1/2 game in the race for the division crown. The Astros and A’s have met seven times so far in 2021. The Astros won the first five games between the two teams, but the A’s won the last two.
The Astros have a lineup loaded with power hitters. As a team, the Astros have sent 48 balls out of the park in their first 41 games. The A’s are no slouch hitting balls into the stratosphere either. The A’s have played 42 games, and they have hit 53 round-trippers.
The Astros are 8-2 in their last ten games. The lineup features second baseman Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Yuli Guriel, Yordan Alvarez, Michael Brantley, and Kyle Turner. Jason Castro and Martin Maldonado share the catching chores. The Astros went to the World Series in 2017 and 2019. They won the championship in 2017. They eliminated the A’s in the 2020 AL Divison Series. A’s manager Bob Melvin has to figure out a way to beat these guys.
Here is a look at the starting pitchers for the series starting Tuesday night at the Oakland Coliseum. Lefty Sean Manaea will go for Oakland. Manaea had a rough outing in Boston last week. The Red Sox roughed him up for seven runs and ten hits in two-plus innings of work.
Manaea will be looking to get back on track against the Astros’ big boppers. Manaea’s last against Houston was on April 9th. He went six innings and allowed one run. Righty Cristian Javier goes for Houston. Javier is 3-1 with an ERA of 3.08.
However, his performances in May have not been that great. In his three starts this month, he has allowed 11 runs in 17 and 1.3rd innings of work for an ERA of 5.71. In his last outing against the Texas Rangers, Javier went seven innings and allowed three runs.
On Wednesday, the veteran righty, Zack Greinke, will face the A’s. Greinke is 3-1 with an ERA of 4.18. In his last start, Greinke went seven innings and allowed three runs. In his three previous starts, the Astros limited him to four innings of work.
The A’s will counter with Frankie Montas. Frankie is 5-2 for the year and has an ERA of 4.93. However, in his last three starts, Montas is 3-0, and his ERA is a respectable 3.12. Frankie beat the Astros in Houston on April 10th. In that game, he went six innings and allowed one run.
In the series finale on Thursday, Luis Garcia will be on the mound for Houston. Garcia had his first career win last week when he beat the Texas Rangers. Garcia is 1-3 for the year and has an ERA of 3.34. The A’s will send lefty Cole Irvin to handle the pitching chores. Irvin is 3-4 for the year and has an ERA of 3.02. In his last start against the Twins last week, Irvin went 6.2/3 innings and allowed one run. His ERA over the last six starts is 1.89.
The series will be a battle for first place in the Western division. The Astros know they will hear many boos from the A’s fans for being caught stealing signs. The Astros complained about the fans being too rough on them. That’s the price they have to pay for cheating.
The A’s pitchers have to be on top of their game to hold down the Houston hitters. The Astros do not have an easy out in the lineup. The A’s have to put runs on the board if they hope to beat the Astros. The A’s have been very successful in winning games by one or two runs. The A’s as a team are hitting about .222. Their hitters can put the ball out of the park, but it would be nice to see them get more hits. The three-game set should be fun.
The teams have finished the first quarter of the season. The Astros and A’s appear to be in the race for the division crown. The Seattle Mariners have rebuilt their team and are not too far behind the A’s and the Astros. The Angels and Rangers have been struggling so far this year. The A’s haven’t played them yet, but they will be seeing them soon.