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Game Thread #18: Athletics at Blue Jays

The early bird gets the worm

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

It is still incredibly early going in the season so far, with just the third week coming to a close. However, despite the fact that it is early, many teams can bury themselves with a poor opening month and even if that team plays to its true talent levels starting in late April or early May, it can be rather difficult to entirely make up early season division deficits (looking at you, Minnesota). Last season, after treading water early and really faltering after that, the A’s didn’t hit their stride until June, by then much too late for the team to have any hope of competing, forcing the team to sell its most sellable assets and return to their losing ways for the duration of the season. Non-competitive baseball is very bare-bones to watch, there are none of those juicy worms on the ground to grow fat and happy on like those teams that started strong and maintained, or built on, that success for an entire season, and the A’s were determined to be an early riser this season and dig in.

After stumbling a bit out of the gates, it appears the A’s have done just that this season, as they enter today’s game with a 10-7 record, tied for first place in the American League West with the Texas Rangers, and are currently soaring on a six game winning streak. And although the A’s have a good record overall and have been playing competitive baseball, at the very least, through the first seventeen games of the season, it could be argued that the team hasn’t really been firing on all cylinders until these past two games or so, where the offense and defense finally excelled simultaneously. A big reason, potentially, for the A’s taking their time in playing to their highest ability, has been the sheer number of struggling key hitters in April, but it finally appears that hitters like Khris Davis are starting to adjust and recapture their timing, allowing the offense to become the annoying force 1-9 they were truly meant to be.

Chris Bassitt will be starting today for the A’s, and he will be opposed by Blue Jays’ left-hander JA Happ. Chris Bassitt has been lacking in support during his entire tenure with the Athletics, and today he has quite an interesting lineup behind him to try and buck the usual trend. Notably, Josh Reddick gets a day off with Mark Canha playing right field and Khris Davis’ incredible arm will be relegated to the DH as Coco Crisp’s incredible arm will be manning left field instead. With Canha also in the outfield, this means that Billy Butler gets to play first, a prospect that may fill a few with dread, though it could also be argued that Butler hasn’t looked horrid at first base in the few games he’s started there in the past. It should also be noted that new callup Tyler Ladendorf will not be getting the start at third today, Coghlan will return to the hot corner again, though he is known for being able to handle left-handed pitching fairly well in the minor leagues.

Rise and shine! This is an early afternoon game on the east coast, so it's a lazy Saturday morning game for all on the west coast. Let’s go

Today's Lineups

Billy Burns - CF Ezequiel Carrera - LF
Mark Canha - RF Josh Donaldson - 3B
Jed Lowrie - 2B Jose Bautista - RF
Billy Butler - 1B Edwin Encarnacion - DH
Khris Davis - DH Troy Tulowitzki - SS
Coco Crisp - LF Justin Smoak - 1B
Marcus Semien - SS Russell Martin - C
Josh Phegley - C Ryan Goins - 2B
Chris Coghlan - 3B Kevin Pillar - CF
Chris Bassitt - RHP J.A. Happ - LHP