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Game Thread #56: Athletics at Astros

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Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

When the A's win, they win in bunches. When the A's lose, they lose in bunches. Unfortunately for them, the stretches of losing have been longer than the stretches of winning. The team started the series against the Astros last night in unremarkable fashion, and so today the A's will be looking to buck their past trends and get back to their winning ways, rather than embark on yet another cycle of losing.

Kendall Graveman, in a few ways, is this season's prototypical A's player. He arrived to the team as a relatively unknown asset with a good minor league track record and plenty of intrigue. His ability is evident, with great movement on his pitches, but he has struggled to properly harness that ability consistently during his stint with the team. When he's on, he's on. When he's not, the team is buried early. There are questions surrounding his ability to hold up over a full season after his injury shortened season the year before, as well as questions regarding whether or not he should continue to hold on to a rotation slot in the first place, or pitch in the minors, with interesting prospects knocking on the door. In his last start versus the Twins, Graveman pitched six innings and allowed two runs in the victory, and looks to continue his winning ways after having a less than stellar May on the pitching mound.

Opposing Graveman is Collin McHugh. Unlike Graveman, who can be quite volatile from start to start, McHugh has consistently been getting good results with lots of strikeouts over the last month or so, including a complete game with eight strikeouts, along with only one walk, during his last effort. Behind McHugh is an Astros team that is finally getting the results most of the baseball world was expecting, with an offense that has been on an absolute tear since promoting Springer to the leadoff spot and bumping Altuve down to second.

With the Astros playing better the A's are now in last place by a half game to both these Astros and the Angels. The A's could potentially leap into third place with a win today and an Angels loss, and then the A's can set their sights on getting back to an even record, and then the playoff push, and then a playoff series win, and then a championship. Lineups are below.

Today's Lineups

OAKLAND A'S HOUSTON ASTROS
Billy Burns - CF George Springer - RF
Jed Lowrie - 2B Jose Altuve - 2B
Stephen Vogt - DH Carlos Correa - SS
Danny Valencia - 3B Colby Rasmus - LF
Khris Davis - LF Evan Gattis - DH
Yonder Alonso - 1B Luis Valbuena - 3B
Marcus Semien - SS Marwin Gonzalez - 1B
Chris Coghlan - RF Jason Castro - C
Josh Phegley - C Jake Marisnick - CF
Kendall Graveman - RHP Collin McHugh - RHP