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Game Thread #55: Oakland A's at Detroit Tigers

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Today, the A's will try to clinch the series against the deservedly hated Tigers, in another edition of awkward 4 PM baseball. I'm sure this makes sense for all you East Coasters out there, but it's a super weird time for all of us on the best coast. It's better than breakfast baseball, but that's not hard to do.

The A's enter today's game on a win streak, which is pretty novel. They've appeared to have finally turned a corner – winning 7 out of their last 10 games is a pretty significant thing for a team that looked hopeless as recently as last week. The talent on this team is finally gelling, and the biggest weakness (the bullpen) has been shored up by the addition of Drew Pomeranz, giving the team another late-game, power lefty.

Today's pitching matchup should be a good one, but by current season stats, it appears lopsided. Sonny Gray (6-2, 1.82) has been potentially the most dominant pitcher in the American League. His success has been driven by an improved K-rate (up to 8.03 per 9 from 7.52 in 2013), an improved walk rate (down from 3.04 to 2.43), and allowing almost zero home runs – 3 all season, good for a 0.36 HR/9. That leaves him at a 2.75 FIP, #10 in the majors. Sonny's maturing into an ace, and that's awesome.

Meanwhile, Anibal Sanchez (3-6, 5.75) is having a bit of a nightmare season. The 2013 ERA champion has been absolutely plauged by homers this year, allowing 1.60 per 9 innings. That's AJ Griffin territory. That's not entirely bad luck – he's allowing a career high 41.7% flyball rate – but the advanced stats predict a a more normal homer rate going forward, and thus a more normal ERA. So, he'll either be good or bad. #analysis.

Here are the lineups. Mark Canha will get a rare start against a RH pitcher, but he's been hammering them to the tune of a 146 wRC+ (that's a .879 OPS), so I'm not complaining. Makes you wonder why his starts have been so infrequent, actually. But that's none of my business.

Today's Lineups

OAKLAND A'S DETROIT TIGERS
Billy Burns - CF Anthony Gose - CF
Ben Zobrist - LF Jose Iglesias - SS
Stephen Vogt - C Miguel Cabrera - 1B
Billy Butler - DH Yoenis Cespedes - LF
Josh Reddick - RF Ian Kinsler - 2B
Brett Lawrie - 3B J.D. Martinez - RF
Marcus Semien - SS Tyler Collins - DH
Mark Canha - 1B Nick Castellanos - 3B
Eric Sogard - 2B James McCann - C
Sonny Gray - RHP Anibal Sanchez - RHP

Awkward 4 PM baseball woo!