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Game Thread #12: Athletics versus Royals

Road Warriors, Home POWs

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Just a week ago, the Athletics were instilling hope into the spirits of A’s fans with a fantastic effort versus rival Seattle Mariners. The pitching, both the starting and relieving, was dominant, and the offense was able to do just enough to ensure that the A’s would return home to their arena poised to fight. It has not gone well.

Despite fighting tooth and nail since that encouraging series in Seattle, the A’s currently find themselves sitting on a 4-7 record, with all seven of those losses occurring before the home crowd. Though there are few exceptions each year, playing at home is supposed to be an advantage to just about each and every team, and even though the A’s still had a losing record at home last season, their performance wasn’t any WORSE than it was on the road (in fact, the home and away records were equal in the very forgettable 2015 season). So the fact that the A’s currently have just one victory in Oakland to start the season is certainly unnerving to see, but is also likely to be a trend that won’t hold up over the full season (one can only hope). As usual, things could be worse, as it was just yesterday that the Braves and Twins won their first games of the entire season, regardless of playing at home or on the road.

What better warrior to lead the fight in the A’s arena this fine Saturday than the unassailable Sonny Gray, who, despite his best efforts, was felled by the Angels in his previous start after allowing a home run to some guy named Mike Trout. Gray has had mixed results thus far this season, pitching through sickness and with less than typical accuracy, but has been the most dominant pitcher on the starting staff regardless.

Dueling Sonny Gray is Chris Young, the pitcher whose very tall height is reflected by his innate ability to get his opponents to hit towering fly balls. Young was consistently proficient at getting hitters out last season in comparison to most of the rest of his team’s staff. However, Young has not been proficient at getting hitters out this season, and he will be looking to get it right versus an A’s offense that has not been performing all too well this season, to put it lightly.

The warriors on the A’s offense have been arming themselves with slingshots rather than swords or spears on the young season, spraying the occasional ball over the fence for a solo shot rather than engaging in long, hard fought battles. The offense, which was designed to be average to above-average top to bottom, has instead witnessed the very top and very bottom of the order turning in average to above-average performances with the entire middle of the lineup producing next to nothing. When, on any given day, only half the lineup is producing in any real way, it would be hard to score much of anything, and the fact that the A’s have yet to get shutout this season is a testament to the fact that, when it finally starts to fire on all cylinders, the offense may be capable of putting a lot of runs on the board.

It is worth noting that there are some significant changes to the lineup today, as the A’s are hoping that a new attack pattern will provide the spark that the team really needs. The most distinctive change in the lineup is moving Marcus Semien up to the second spot of the lineup, as his bat has been the strongest on the entire team up to this point of the season, and if he stays hot, having his ability at the top of the order allows him more opportunities to either drive in more runs or get driven in more often.

It's not like there is anything else going on today that anyone would really care about. The greatest warriors of the Bay Area are taking on the Royals in what should be a very thrilling matchup. I mean, Sonny is pitching, what more could you possibly need on a day like today?

What playoff game?

Today's Lineups

Alcides Escobar - SS Billy Burns - CF
Mike Moustakas - 3B Marcus Semien - SS
Lorenzo Cain - CF Josh Reddick - RF
Eric Hosmer - 1B Danny Valencia - 3B
Kendrys Morales - DH Stephen Vogt - DH
Alex Gordon - LF Jed Lowrie - 2B
Omar Infante - 2B Khris Davis - LF
Reymond Fuentes - RF Yonder Alonso - 1B
Drew Butera - C Josh Phegley - C
Chris Young - RHP Sonny Gray - RHP