And Oakland win and Boston loss tonight would give the A's the American League's best record headed into a three-game, pre-All Star Break weekend series against — guess who — the Red Sox. But to put themselves in a position to earn that distinction, the A's will have to contend with two major obstacles: the weather in Pittsburgh and Francisco Liriano.
In terms of the weather, this picture that Susan Slusser posted on Twitter will probably tell you everything you need to know:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>One more. I can't get over this. We don't see this in California. <a href="http://t.co/6H5d8brByi">pic.twitter.com/6H5d8brByi</a></p>— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) <a href="https://twitter.com/susanslusser/statuses/355089370648297472">July 10, 2013</a></blockquote>
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But assuming that a baseball game gets played tonight, I'll talk about Liriano, the Pirates' southpaw who is putting together a phenomenal first half. So far, he's 8-3 with a 2.20 ERA, though he's getting some help in the LOB department, given that his opponents' LOB rate of 84.4% is probably unsustainable. That's not to take anything away from him as a pitcher, because when this guy gets going, he's absolute nails. All the same, though, he can't realistically expect to keep that number from regressing toward his career mark of 70.9%.
The A's counter with a southpaw of their own: Tommy Milone. He's 8-7 on the year with a 4.11 ERA, but as Nico points out in this article, he's a lot less likely to struggle in night games than in day games, and this contest will start no earlier than 8pm Eastern Time. However, we also know that Milone tends not to pitch as well on the road, so something's gotta give. I wonder if we have numbers for how well Tommy pitches in thunderstorms!
Grant Green is getting the start tonight, still in search of his first Major League hit. Sonny Gray is also in the bullpen for Oakland after being called up yesterday. Here are the lineups:
|4:05pm PT Athletics (T. Milone - L) @ Pirates (F. Liriano - L)|
Also, for the first time in forever, the A's are on ESPN. If you're not blacked out, check out the national broadcast and see what the ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball crew has to say about this A's team.