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Game Thread #81: A's at Florida

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"Hey look! I'm calling balls and strikes yesterday!"
"Hey look! I'm calling balls and strikes yesterday!"
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the halfway point in the season! By day's end, the A's will be on pace to win either 100 or 102 games for the year. And that's really not bad, eh?

I think it's fair to say that if the A's are able to take a 4-0 lead today, they will not get smug about it. If the Marlins have been nothing else in this series they have been scrappy, turning 4-0 deficits into 5-4 leads and battling the A's to the end. Nonetheless, Oakland has won each of the first two games and goes for the sweep behind Tommy Milone against fellow southpaw Andrew Heaney.

With Josh Reddick going back on the DL with a strain of the same knee that felled him earlier this month, Nate Freiman is back and in the lineup at 1B. Because they are oh so similar, as Susan Slusser reports Freiman is channeling his inner Rickey Henderson, wearing #35 and standing taller in his stance on advice from none other than Rickey.

There will now be a medium-sized understatement: Milone needs to get deep into today's game. You see, the A's don't actually have relievers available, just a few guys who could pitch if Bob Melvin has to say, "I know you're not available, but I need you to pitch anyway." The exception would be Fernando Abad, who threw an inning yesterday but hadn't worked for 6 days prior. Ryan Cook has pitched 2 days in a row but could probably give the A's an inning again today. Everyone else is either coming off "3 days out of 4" or is actually strictly not available (Jim Johnson, 45 pitches yesterday). Or they are named Jeff Francis.

Neither team has HRed in the series, thanks in large part to the spacious confines of the stadium which has taken potential HRs away from at least Reed Johnson and Josh Donaldson (twice). This bodes well for Milone and his 42% fly ball rate. Speaking of Milone, Tommy isn't just pitching, he's also batting 9th which means he figures to become the first A's pitcher to bat in consecutive games since Ken Holtzman did it in 1972. Milone pinch hit yesterday and flied out. The starting lineups:

Today's Lineups

Craig Gentry - CF C. Yelich - CF
A. Callaspo - 2B Reed Johnson - LF
Yoenis Cespedes - LF G. Stanton - RF
Josh Donaldson - 3B Casey McGehee - 3B
Nate Freiman - 1B Ed Lucas - SS
Brandon Moss - RF Jeff Baker - 1B
Nick Punto - SS Donovan Solano - 2B
Stephen Vogt - C Jeff Mathis - C
Tommy Milone - LHP Andrew Heaney - LHP