Good morning, Athletics Nation! This is the artist formerly known as "ahhall." Since SB Nation is about to undergo a bit of a makeover (and in the process, become even more awesome than it already is), I decided to re-boot my user-name as well.
Last night, the A's suffered one of the least disappointing losses of the year. I mean, don't get me wrong; I was bummed that Oakland didn't pull off the victory. However, it's tough to be upset when Jarrod Parker completely shuts down New York's lineup in Yankee Stadium, Oakland (specifically, Brandon Moss) refuses to give up and dramatically ties the game at the last minute, and the uber-patient Yankees don't draw a single walk in 9+ innings. As Nico pointed out in the comments of last night's recap, this was a game which could have swung either way with a fortunate hop here or there. Remember, this was a game against a near-certain playoff team, in their home park which is tailor-made for their team, against their ace who makes more money than Oakland's entire pitching staff and their closer who makes more than Oakland's entire bullpen. And the A's were one more base hit away from a victory. Sometimes, you just need to accept the positives, admit that your team got out-played, and move on to the next game.
Well, the next game has arrived, and it's a big one. Just because I wasn't disappointed by last night's eventual loss doesn't mean that it wasn't crucial. With Baltimore's victory in Boston, the A's have officially lost their grip on the 1st Wild Card. They absolutely need at least one win in this series, and I'd rather not put that task off until tomorrow.
New York sends Ivan Nova to the mound. Nova is making his second start since returning from a 3-week DL stint thanks to an inflamed rotator cuff. In his previous start, he threw 6 solid innings against the Rays, striking out 8 batters and exiting after 85 pitches. I assume that that means he will be on some sort of pitch count again today, but I honestly don't care at all about the Yankees and I hate reading about them, so I'm not going to check. Let's just pretend that he's on a pitch count, and then act surprised if it turns out that he's not. Who's with me?! Nova has made two quality-but-not-dominant starts against the A's this year. In 13.2 innings, he's posted a 10:2 K:BB ratio, allowed a pair of homers (to Reddick and Kila Ka'aihue, who for some reason isn't on the expanded roster as an emergency pinch-hitter), and surrendered 5 earned runs (3.29 ERA). Nova doesn't impress or intimidate me at all, and I fully expect Oakland's lineup to destroy him in a day game in Yankee Stadium. I will be disappointed if that doesn't happen.
Oakland counters with Travis Blackley, who is back in the rotation to replace Brett Anderson (who was disqualified for not being a rookie). It would probably be foolish to expect more than 5 innings from Blackley, who last started on August 29 and has only pitched twice since then. I would be happy with 5 solid innings, and ecstatic with anything more than that. That said, southpaws are preferable in Yankee Stadium in order to neutralize New York's lefty-heavy lineup, and Blackley hails from Australia, which is about as far south as you can go without a parka and an English-Penguin dictionary. Also, he's left-handed, which is probably more relevant.
I fully expect today's game to be a high-scoring affair on both sides. Here are the lineups:
|Athletics (T. Blackley - L) @ Yankees (I. Nova - R)|