Last night marked the third straight series in which the A's dropped the opening game. Yet in both of those series — this past weekend against the Rangers and a week ago against Houston — Oakland came back to win the second two games, earning much-needed series wins against their bottom-dwelling AL West counterparts.
To see if that pattern can live on, Jeff Samardzija gets the ball tonight for the Athletics, making his fifth start in the American League since a blockbuster deal brought him and Jason Hammel to the A's in exchange, mainly, for Addison Russell.
Oakland's newest front-line starter hasn't necessarily been dominant in those four starts, but he has been consistently able to pitch deep into games. He's thrown 30 innings already with the A's, having gone seven frames in a pair of starts and eight in another. He's allowed a single earned run twice, but gave up three against Seattle and four against Baltimore, when he suddenly become home run-prone to the tune of one of the pitchers the A's gave up to get him: Dan Straily.
With Coco Crisp home in the East Bay following a neck examination that showed no new structural damage, Oakland will continue to make do with other leadoff and outfield solutions. Tonight, it's John Jaso in the leadoff spot, hardly a problem since he seems to thrive there.
The rest of the lineup is stacked with other left-handed bats to take on Houston's right-handed Scott Feldman; among them are Brandon Moss, Stephen Vogt, Josh Reddick, and Eric Sogard.
Reddick, interestingly, is in center field tonight, after reportedly being approached by Yoenis Cespedes, who apparently doesn't feel comfortable enough in center field to man it in Crisp's absence. Reddick has played plenty of center field in his professional career, but hasn't played it at the Major League level since 2012.
Here are the full lineups, with first pitch from Houston scheduled for 5:10pm Pacific.
|OAKLAND A'S||HOUSTON ASTROS|
|John Jaso - DH||Jose Altuve - 2B|
|Jed Lowrie - SS||Marwin Gonzalez - SS|
|Yoenis Cespedes - LF||Chris Carter - DH|
|Brandon Moss - RF||Jason Castro - C|
|Josh Donaldson - 3B||Marc Krauss - LF|
|Stephen Vogt - 1B||Jonathan Singleton - 1B|
|Derek Norris - C||Matt Dominguez - 3B|
|Josh Reddick - CF||Robbie Grossman - RF|
|Eric Sogard - 2B||Enrique Hernandez - CF|
|Jeff Samardzija - RHP||Scott Feldman - RHP|