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Game Thread #3: A's vs. White Sox

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Hello everyone! This is CryoBioBoy, AKA Jeremy. First up, let me say how excited I am to be doing game threads this season on AN. After a couple years of lurking the comment section pretty much every game, it’s thrilling to be doing these posts myself. I'm really thankful for this opportunity and I'll try to keep the luck from my Spring Training game going now that we're playing real baseball.

I was going to open by saying something like, "As you saw last night, the A's suffered another painful one-run loss versus the White Sox." However, considering the game was blacked out for so many people (THANKS BEANE /s), a lot of us were reliant upon either radio or the comments of the A's diaspora who could watch the game on mlb.tv, meaning many of us didn’t really get to see the game at all.

Take solace! This game should be better for at least two reasons:

  1. After overcoming some kind of 24-hour flu bug, ace Sonny Gray is ready to rock. Kendall Graveman seems to have caught whatever was afflicting Sonny, so hopefully he can make a speedy recovery as well.
  2. We won't have to listen to Hawk Harrelson tonight, or indeed hopefully ever again.

The A's will face yet another lefty from the South Side, this time Carlos Rodon. 2015 was Rodon's first year in the majors and by all rights he did respectably, starting 23 games and striking out 139 batters over 139.1 innings for a 3.75 ERA.

Sonny Gray hardly requires any introduction, but just to recap last season: Sonny was absolutely dominant for the majority of 2015, slipping somewhat in the last month or so to drop to 3rd in the AL Cy Young vote. In 208 innings, Sonny racked up 169 strikeouts and allowed only a .217 average, good for a 2.73 season ERA.

Today's Lineups

CHICAGO WHITE SOX OAKLAND A'S
Adam Eaton - RF Billy Burns - CF
Jimmy Rollins - SS Khris Davis - LF
Jose Abreu - 1B Jed Lowrie - 2B
Todd Frazier - 3B Danny Valencia - 3B
Melky Cabrera - LF Billy Butler - DH
Avisail Garcia - DH Josh Phegley - C
Brett Lawrie - 2B Mark Canha - RF
Alex Avila - C Yonder Alonso - 1B
Austin Jackson - CF Marcus Semien - SS
Carlos Rodon - LHP Sonny Gray - RHP

For the eyeball scouts at home:

-How will the A's bats play against yet another left-handed pitcher? Our platoon-heavy lineup hasn't had much chance to platoon yet, with today marking the 3rd consecutive lefty taking the mound for the White Sox. Will our late-innings pinch hitters be able to get timely hits? Will we ever face off against a righty again?

-Defense, defense, defense. The A's made two costly errors in game #1 and while game #2 has a 0 in the E column, it's probably not unreasonable to think that Lowrie's slow toss to 2nd instead of the sure out at 1st was the biggest play of last night's game (since Frazier's 3-run home run came after what should have been the third out). Can the A's show a good grasp of the fundamentals, both mechanical and mental?

-Billy Butler alert: I'm pretty sure this is causing me to lose some kind of bet, but I have to say it: Billy Butler has been pretty good so far, y'all. Obviously it's only been two games so it's way too early to draw any kind of conclusion yet. But other than Jed Lowrie, Butler has been arguably the best hitter on the regular roster for Spring Training and these first couple of regular season games. This happened last year, too - let's hope Butler can keep the momentum going this time.

Will Sonny prevail over the dudes in Gray for the first win of Oakland's season? Will he make Hawk Harrelson cry? Tune in at 7:05 to find out!