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Game Thread #25: Astros at Athletics

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

After spending a long time away from home, the Athletics' returned to the Coliseum in style last night as the team pulled off a very dramatic come-from-behind walk-off victory (courtesy of known major power threat Yonder Alonso) against struggling division rival Houston Astros. The crowd at the Coliseum was electric, in large part due to the fact that AthleticsNation's top prospect Sean Manaea was making his major league debut, likely his first start of many over the next decade-plus, and fans all over the globe were beside themselves in anticipation of his debut. Though Manaea's performance in itself was a bit of a mixed bag, at least a part of his less than stellar statline could be attributed to Sean Doolittle failing to bail him out of trouble in the sixth, and it should be expected that Manaea's control and poise on the mound will become stronger as he gains more experience on the mound. After all, Manaea hasn't even pitched 250 professional innings yet.

Today is a new day, however, and the A's, record currently at 12 wins and 12 losses will attempt to secure the series victory against the Astros, record currently at 7 wins and 16 losses. While his debut perhaps will not match the hype of Manaea's, today marks the first start of the season for Jesse Hahn, thought of by many to be the number two or three pitcher in the organization after Sonny Gray, who has been pitching for the Nashville Sounds up to this point in the season. Hahn, coming off of an injury-riddled 2015 season, showed flashes of brilliance while he was able to take the mound last season, and is looking to take a big leap forward this year.

Jesse Hahn has been relegated to Nashville up to this point in the season, likely due to concerns of accuracy and stamina, since Hahn has yet to pitch a full season in his major league career and has been very recently removed from elbow/forearm discomfort. Hahn struggled mightily in spring training, and while spring training stats are not ultimately all that important in evaluating a player, his process and results were concerning enough to the front office that Hahn was sent down to the minors to get himself straight again. Though in his past few starts for Nashville Hahn hasn't been able to get very deep into games, Hahn has pitched rather effectively otherwise, though he is still walking batters at a higher clip than most avid A's devotees would be accustomed to from him, and it is likely that Hahn was on pitch count limits that prevented him from pitching to his full capacity. Still, it wouldn't be unheard of for the A's to have a quicker leash with Hahn than the team would have normally, simply due to the fact that his arm may not be completely stretched out after going a few weeks without throwing 80+ pitches.

Opposing Jesse Hahn will be a relief pitcher attempting to transition into a big league starter in one Chris Devenksi, aptly nicknamed "The Dragon." While his "stuff" is certainly there, and he is capable to using both his fastball and offspeed pitches to get batters out, the biggest questions surrounding Devenski currently are his stamina levels, and whether or not his pitches will lose some of their effectiveness as he transitions from a one-inning reliever to a big league starter. Previously thought of as the surefire favorites to win the AL Western division, the Astros are off to an extremely slow start, and while the team has plenty enough talent to turn things around, the hole that the Astros have dug themselves this early in the season could potentially play spoiler for the Astros later on. Luckily for them, if anyone, thus far it seems unlikely that any team is capable of easily running away with the division crown in the AL West.

In other news, the man with the best/worst pitcher name ever in Grant Balfour has announced his retirement after nineteen professional seasons. It is very fitting that the Oakland A's giveaway for fans attending today's game is the Sean Doolittle Metallica Gnome, as the extremely passionate closer of the Oakland A's of years past was known for his love of all things metal and raging, and even had his own metal-gnome giveaway during his successful tenure with the Athletics.

In potentially very sad news, Chris Bassitt may be headed towards Tommy John surgery. He is currently seeking a second opinion, fingers are crossed but not holding my breath that he will wind up back in the rotation this season.

Public Service Announcement: Everyone, or at the very least my own person, has been pronouncing Ladendorf's name wrong, as the "A" in his name should be pronounced like the "A" in ladder, rather than like the "A" in way. Please make a mental note of it.

Here's to hoping the Astros are Hahnded a defeat today courtesy of your very own A's.

Below are today's lineups for both teams:

Today's Lineups

Jose Altuve - 2B Billy Burns - CF
George Springer - RF Jed Lowrie - 2B
Carlos Correa - SS Josh Reddick - RF
Colby Rasmus - CF Khris Davis - DH
Evan Gattis - DH Chris Coghlan - 3B
Tyler White - 1B Coco Crisp - LF
Preston Tucker - LF Yonder Alonso - 1B
Luis Valbuena - 3B Josh Phegley - C
Jason Castro - C Marcus Semien - SS
Chris Devenski - RHP Jesse Hahn - RHP