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Game Thread #128: Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels

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Coco Crisp hit his second leadoff home run of the season Friday night. Craig Gentry bats second tonight.
Coco Crisp hit his second leadoff home run of the season Friday night. Craig Gentry bats second tonight.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

If you have not already bought your tickets, good luck with the ticket touts. The O.co Coliseum is sold out tonight as the Oakland Athletics hope to return to a share of the American League West Division lead in the second game of this three-game set against the Los Angeles Angels. Fireworks will follow.

The Green and Gold tonight start Jon Lester (13-8, 2.58) against the Halos. In four starts since joining the Athletics at the trade deadline, Lester is 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA. All four of those starts are quality starts. His last outing was a rather pedestrian affair over six innings, giving up four runs, three earned, striking out just five and allowing two home runs against the Atlanta Braves at the Ted.

A few of the Angels seem to have gotten the jump on Lester over the years. Infielder John McDonald, not in tonight's starting lineup because he bats .149 overall, is 5-for-18 with a home run, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch for a .278/.350/.500 line. Shortstop Erick Aybar's 3-for-14 with three walks for a .214/.353/.214 line also stands out. Josh Hamilton is 7-for-24 with a home run, a walk, and two strikeouts for a line of .292/.320/.417. Starters Collin Cowgill and David Freese have never faced Lester.

Opposing the Athletics is left-hander C.J. Wilson (10-8, 4.59). To try to explain the spike from the 3.37 ERA he had as a starter from 2010-2013 is Jim Gardner of Halos Heaven from our series preview:

If [Wilson would] just go out there and throw, not pitch but throw, it would seem he'd do so much better. When I watch him pitch, it looks like he's trying to hit a spot the size of a dime, instead of just looking for a location. To me, this looks more like a headcase problem than a pitching problem.

The A's have a lot of players that have performed exceptionally well against Wilson. The alphabetical list of players with on-base percentages above .350 are Sam Fuld (.429 in seven plate appearances), Craig Gentry (.375 in 16 PAs), Jonny Gomes (.455 in 22 PAs), and Brandon Moss (.500 in six PAs). All but Moss are in tonight's starting lineup.

Today's Lineups

LOS ANGELES ANGELS OAKLAND A'S
Collin Cowgill - RF Coco Crisp - CF
Mike Trout - CF Craig Gentry - LF
Albert Pujols - 1B Josh Donaldson - 3B
Josh Hamilton - LF Derek Norris - C
David Freese - DH Jonny Gomes - DH
Howie Kendrick - 2B Nate Freiman - 1B
Erick Aybar - SS Alberto Callaspo - 2B
Chris Iannetta - C Sam Fuld - RF
Gordon Beckham - 3B Andy Parrino - SS

The Athletics will repeat their lineup from last night. The only other time this season Bob Melvin has offered the same batting order and defensive positioning (save the pitcher) was May 11-12, when the A's also faced two left-handed pitchers, the National's Gio Gonzalez and the White Sox's John Danks.

The A's have five left-handers available from the bench: John Jaso, Brandon Moss, Stephen Vogt, Eric Sogard, and Josh Reddick.

For the Angels, Josh Hamilton is the sole left-handed batter in tonight's lineup. From the bench, the Angels can call on switch-hitter Hank Conger, left-handed bats Kole Calhoun and Efren Navarro, and right-handed bat John McDonald.

Umpire report - Home plate umpire Chad Fairchild

Chad Fairchild's home plate umpiring ERA this year is 3.92 in 11 games behind the plate, compared against the MLB ERA of 3.77. Amongst umpires with at least 10 games calling the balls and strikes, ERAs range from Ed Hickox's 2.80 in 22 games to Chris Conroy's 4.87 in 21 games.

Here's Fairchild's zone in the August 19 game between the Padres and Dodgers, from Brooksbaseball.net:

Notable notables

From tonight's Oakland Athletics game notes (PDF):

  • The Athletics need to finish August 6-3 to match the franchise's longest streak of winning months at 15, set by the Philadelphia Athletics from July 1928 to September 1930. The current streak of 14 winning months is the longest in Oakland history.
  • The A's are 7-3 against the Angels this year. The two teams play each other 19 times. A 10th victory will give that team home field for any potential tiebreaker game to decide the division.
  • Fernando Abad continues his perfect record of stranding inherited runners, now on 26 after leaving the bases loaded against the New York Mets last Tuesday night. He leads amongst relievers perfect in that regard. "Since 1974, the Major League single season record for most inherited runners stranded without allowing one to score is 22 (Randy Myers, 1998)."
  • The A's bullpen is "averaging 2.42 walks per nine innings, which is the lowest rate in the majors and would be the lowest in franchise history since at least 1914 (1944, 2.49)."
  • Sean Doolittle's K:BB ratio of 15.80 is highest among all MLB relievers. Pat Neshek is second at 9.67. Doolittle's mark so far would be fourth-best since at least 1914. Dennis Eckersley has the top-two at 18.33 and 18.25 in '89 and '90, followed by Tom Morgan at 16.50 as a reliever in 1958.
  • Alberto Callaspo is 8 for 23 (.348) in his last seven games.
  • Coco Crisp has gone 24 consecutive games without a stolen base, which matches his career high. On the other hand, Crisp is the only player in MLB with two bases loaded triples this year. Both of those triples came in the last 12 games.
  • Craig Gentry has hit safely in all eight of his games against the Angels.
  • Since his reinstatement from the disabled list on July 22, Josh Reddick is batting .302 (29 for 96) with eight doubles, a triple, and five home runs.

First pitch is at 6:05 pm Pacific Time

Let's get these guys. Go Oakland!