The former Phillies, Expos, Twins, and Angels manager Gene Mauch once said, "Losing streaks are funny. If you lose at the beginning you got off to a bad start. If you lose in the middle of the season, you're in a slump. If you lose at the end, you're choking." The Athletics, of course, are combining the slump and choke phases of Mauch's analogy, but his point is salient. The A's can come out of this at any time, and so long as they get through these remaining games, anything can happen in the postseason.
Left-handed pitcher Jon Lester makes his 10th start for the Athletics. Lester has made 17 consecutive Quality Starts dating back to June 12. Opposing him is Philadelphia rookie David Buchanan, who bring a 6-7 record and 3.75 ERA to this contest, for an ERA+ or 98. The right-hander has struck out 5.5 batters per nine innings, and allowed 2.6 walks per nine.
It's Star Wars fireworks night, hence the slightly early 6:35 start.
Literally, our only hope. pic.twitter.com/ooboJ1BxxK— Athletics Nation (@athleticsnation) September 20, 2014
|PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES||OAKLAND A'S|
|Ben Revere - CF||Coco Crisp - CF|
|Carlos Ruiz - C||Sam Fuld - RF|
|Chase Utley - 2B||Josh Donaldson - 3B|
|Ryan Howard - DH||Adam Dunn - DH|
|Marlon Byrd - RF||Brandon Moss - LF|
|Domonic Brown - LF||Stephen Vogt - 1B|
|Darin Ruf - 1B||Jed Lowrie - SS|
|Maikel Franco - 3B||Derek Norris - C|
|Freddy Galvis - SS||Eric Sogard - 2B|
For the Athletics, Josh Reddick reports himself available off the bench as a pinch-hitter, as his ankle is feeling much better. His neck bothers him enough that he declined to take batting practice this afternoon. Right-handed batting bench options are Nate Freiman, Geovany Soto, and Jonny Gomes. Switch-hitters are Alberto Callaspo, Nick Punto, Andy Parrino, and Billy Burns. Bryan Anderson is the other left-hander on the bench besides Reddick.
For the Phillies, Jimmy Rollins tweaked his hamstring and won't be available tonight. He may be available this weekend, however.
Home plate umpire report: Chris Conroy
The A's have had the interesting experience of facing both the Clayton Kershaw of home plate umpires in Kerwin Danley (2.71 umpire ERA) and now tonight the Clay Buchholz of home plate umpires in Chris Conroy (4.99). In an era where people are asking whether we should lower the mound again or reduce the strike zone, Conroy's ERA is a full 1.24 runs above the Major League average of 3.75. Judge Conroy's strikezone from an August 5 game between the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox for yourself:
Interesting facts from tonight's Oakland Athletics game notes (PDF):
- The Athletics still have the best record in MLB since 2012. Their 273-203 is a game ahead of the Washington Nationals and three games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.
- Since August 26, 14 of the A's 22 games have been decided by one or two runs. They are 3-11 in those contests. Their 25 one-run losses this season is the most by an A's team over the last 27 years, and is tied for third most in the American League.
- The A's are on pace to break Oakland records for stolen base percentage (80.7% in 2008) and opponents stolen base percentage (81.3% in 2005). They have successfully taken 81 of 98 bags (82.7%) and allowed 94 of 114 attempts (82.5%).
- This is the third visit by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Coliseum. The A's won two of three in 2008 the last time they were here. The all-time series is tied at six games each.
- This day in 1954, the Philadelphia Athletics played the Yankees in their final game at Connie Mack Stadium, also known as Shibe Park. The A's finished that 1954 season 60 games out of first place, and only 1,715 were reported to attend. The Phillies continued to use Connie Mack Stadium until they moved to Veterans Stadium for the 1971 season.
- Hitting streaks: Billy Burns 1 game; Coco Crisp 1; Josh Donaldson 3; Sam Fuld 2; Jed Lowrie 1; Josh Reddick 2; Geovany Soto 1; Stephen Vogt 1.
First pitch at 6:35! Let's go A's!