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Open Thread: Game 31 - A's vs. Rays

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With the A's having plummeted to a possibly insurmountable 1 game deficit in the AL West (curse you, Texas, and your magic number!), an Athletics Nation turns its lonely eyes to you...Ben Sheets.

Sheets is not currently found on the Christmas lists of very many A's fans, and today marks a rather significant outing in the righty's "A's career." Coming off a terrible start followed by a worse one, and having served up 5 HRs on the road trip, Sheets is nonetheless healthy and throwing hard, and if he bounces back with a solid effort today things will feel a lot different than if he gets lit up for the third consecutive start. Sheets is opposed by the Ray's #5 starter, Wade Davis.

Prediction: Sheets will pitch better if he throws a changeup sometime in the first 2 innings than if he doesn't. Come on, Ben, figure it out. Pitch selection aside, the other key is that given his current velocity and movement, the high fastball that worked well for Sheets with Milwaukee needs to become a fastball at the knees right now.

Overall, with the news on Justin Duchscherer leading towards "cautious optimism" (he may take his turn in Anaheim next weekend), the news on Brett Anderson very good (he threw 30 "pitches" on flat ground yesterday, reported feeling fine, and hopes to return to the rotation by the end of the month), and Kurt Suzuki's return imminent (Tuesday), the A's are looking ok if they can right the shitp that is Ben Sheets.

Jack Cust's OPS is up to .931 in Sacramento, so Eric Chavez (.220/.275/.305) will DH.


Lineup

Tampa Bay Rays @ Oakland Athletics

05/08/10 1:05 PM PDT

Tampa Bay Rays Oakland Athletics
Jason Bartlett - SS Cliff Pennington - SS
Carl Crawford - LF Daric Barton - 1B
Ben Zobrist - RF Ryan Sweeney - RF
Evan Longoria - 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff - 3B
Carlos Pena - 1B Eric Chavez - DH
B.J. Upton - CF Adam Rosales - 2B
Pat Burrell - DH Gabe Gross - CF
John Jaso - C Landon Powell - C
Reid Brignac - 2B Eric Patterson - LF