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Game Thread #113: Oakland Athletics vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Well, we haven't said this phrase in a long time; The A's will try for the sweep this afternoon behind the July pitcher of the month, Sonny Gray. Despite the dip in offensive production, the A's starting pitching and bullpen have kept them in games, dodging what could have been a disastrous losing streak. The A's offense will try to muster up some runs in today's day game to complete the sweep and put pressure on the Angels tonight.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a series makes. The A's first place ranking was in a precarious position all week long, as the Angels threatened night after night to claim the top spot in the West, while the A's bats have been slumbering, causing them to lose a series to the Astros and one to the Royals before taking on Tampa Bay. It looked more of the same for our fearless heroes in Monday's contest, but the A's did just enough to tie the game and win in extra innings, while the starting pitching and bullpen kept the game as close as needed for a win. In last night's effort, neither the starting pitcher--the much-maligned Jason Hammel--nor the bullpen gave up a single run and the three runs that the offense scratched across would be more than enough to win the game as Doolittle brought the hammer down for the save. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers were scratching out a win of their own against the Angels, and instead of a tie atop the AL West, the A's gained a full game last night to pull two games ahead.

In short: The A's have a chance to sweep Tampa Bay today behind Sonny Gray in an August pennant race when ever game counts, especially since the A's have six head-to-head match-ups against the Angels looming at the end of the month. Any distance they can gather now would go a long way in the race.

Sonny Gray will be facing off against Jeremy Hellickson, and the A's offense will try to get something rolling. Coco Crisp will be leading off, and two of the three catchers will be in as Vogt will DH and Jaso catch. Fuld has been dropped in the lineup, giving the bottom some speed. It's an interesting look, to be sure.

Here's the full line-up:

Today's Lineups

Desmond Jennings - CF Coco Crisp - CF
Ben Zobrist - LF John Jaso - C
Matt Joyce - DH Josh Donaldson - 3B
Evan Longoria - 3B Brandon Moss - 1B
James Loney - 1B Josh Reddick - RF
Yunel Escobar - SS Alberto Callaspo - 2B
Cole Figueroa - 2B Stephen Vogt - DH
Jose Molina - C Sam Fuld - LF
Kevin Kiermaier - RF Eric Sogard - SS