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Game Thread #61: A's at Orioles

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics start Tommy Milone (3-3, 3.60) against Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (6-2, 4.26) for the second stop on the A's road trip with first pitch at 4:05 pm. The Green and Gold come to Oriole Park at Camden Yards continuing to ride the American League's best record at 37-23, a half-game ahead of Toronto. Leading the AL West by 5½, the A's are well ahead of where they were after 60 games the last two years.

Season Record AL West lead Position
2014 37-23 5.5 ahead 1st
2013 35-25 1.5 GB 2nd
2012 26-34 8.0 GB 4th

The Orioles are 5½ games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East, but are only a half-game back in the very tight AL Wild Card race. Starter Wei-Yin Chen, while sporting a middling ERA, has seen some of his peripherals improve this season. For instance, his BB/9 is down from around 2.6 to 1.6. We'll see how well that holds up against the famed good eyes of the A's lineup, who collectively have 259 walks in their 60 games, leading the New York Mets by 30 and the Boston Red Sox by 31. As noted in the series preview, however, Chen has allowed only one run in his career against the Athletics in 20⅔ innings.

Over the last month, the left-handed Milone has pitched dramatically better than his record and ERA indicate. Since giving up six runs to the Boston Red Sox on May 3 and since Dan Straily was demoted before Milone's start on May 9, Milone is 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in five starts, striking out 23, walking seven, and giving up just two home runs over 32⅓ innings. This is his first start at Camden Yards.

Today's Lineups

Craig Gentry - CF Nick Markakis - RF
Jed Lowrie - SS Manny Machado - 3B
Josh Donaldson - 3B Nelson Cruz - DH
Yoenis Cespedes - LF Adam Jones - CF
Derek Norris - C Chris Davis - 1B
Brandon Moss - RF J.J. Hardy - SS
Alberto Callaspo - DH Steve Pearce - LF
Kyle Blanks - 1B Jonathan Schoop - 2B
Nick Punto - 2B Nick Hundley - C
Tommy Milone - LHP Wei-Yin Chen - LHP

Craig Gentry leads off and plays center field with Coco Crisp on the bench today. Crisp continues to have an on-again-off-again relationship with his neck. Derek Norris is the only catcher in tonight's lineup. Kyle Blanks will play first base with Brandon Moss in right field and Alberto Callaspo at designated hitter. Nick Punto gets the nod at second base.

Your bench options are left-handed batters Eric Sogard, John Jaso, and Stephen Vogt, and switch-hitting Coco Crisp.

Bullpen Notes

The Orioles used five relievers yesterday in their 6-8 loss to the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Only Darren O'Day and Zach Britton were unused.

Yesterday's sterling performance by Drew Pomeranz preserved much of the Oakland bullpen. Bob Melvin only called upon Jim Johnson to pitch a scoreless eighth, and even he pitched on six days rest. Jeff Francis is on 13 days rest, he has not appeared since May 24 against Toronto (did immigration detain him at the border?). Ryan Cook looks to make his first appearance since returning from the disabled list.

Throwing babies out of the upper deck

  • These guys have been around the block: The A's have now played 60 games without using a rookie. The Oakland single-season record is 73 games to start 1984.
  • Bullpen depth: The A's bullpen has not allowed a run in six games and 16⅔ innings.
  • Hitting streaks: Coco Crisp rides a nine-game hitting streak entering today's game, though he sits on the bench tonight. Kyle Blanks has a six-game hitting streak. Brandon Moss and Nick Punto each have four-game hitting streaks.
  • Kittenface wheels: Craig Gentry has stolen 22 consecutive bases without being caught dating back to August 24, 2013.
  • Sogardellis: As a second baseman, Eric Sogard has not allowed an error in 43 consecutive games. His 180 chances at second base without an error is the longest active streak in the majors.
  • Pitching highs: Sean Doolittle's 16⅓ innings scoreless streak is an ongoing career high. His previous best was 13⅔ innings from April 29 to May 29, 2013.
  • Lacking The Will To Win: Fernando Abad continues to ride a 15-game losing streak dating back to April 9, 2011. It is the longest active losing streak in the majors.

Streak information courtesy Oakland Athletics game notes.

One possible advantage to yesterday's morning baseball:

Let's go A's!