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Game Thread #104: Athletics at Indians

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the loss last night, the A's continue to play highly competitive baseball and are not only watchable again, but really fun to watch play. The recent hot streak the A's have been on for most of July has the A's front office second guessing whether or not to sell at the deadline, as injuries to key players like Rich Hill may wind up resulting in the team choosing to hold onto most of its players this season and do the roster retooling in the offseason. The competitive team the A's built revealed itself too late within the season to realistically entertain any thoughts of sneaking into the playoffs, but if the A's can play good baseball throughout the entire second half, then the 2017 baseball season does not look nearly as bleak as it would have looked in early July.

Dillon Overton gets the start today for the A's as the felled-by-a-blister Rich Hill won't be able to make one final start for the A's before the trade deadline, creating question marks about whether or not the arguably most-tradeable player at the deadline will actually be dealt to another team or retained and given a quality offer after the season ends. Gawking at Hill's curves has easily been one of the most enjoyable aspects of this season, but equally enjoyable has been the youth movement and its relative success, which is why Overton is taking the mound today. While injuries have changed Overton from the type of pitcher he was when he was drafted, throughout his relatively little experience in the minor leagues he has learned to adapt and find new strengths. Overton's biggest adaptation test will continue to be his first big league starts, as he has had two decent starts and one rather horrendous one to begin his career. These starts have revealed that while his locating is generally above average, if he does leave a pitch out over the plate it has a propensity for getting hit very, very hard. If Overton cannot contain his fly balls within the confines of the Indians' stadium, it will not be a very long outing for him.

Going up against Overton against a strong Cleveland team is Josh Tomlin, who has been one of the Indians' better starters throughout this season despite many more names in the rotation holding much more pedigree, but his July has been a mixed bag with two good starts and two bad ones. The Indians entered this series one of the winningest teams in all of baseball for the past few months, and the strong pitching staff is the driving force as to why.

Earlier today, the A's announced that the team traded Billy Burns to the Royals for right-handed hitting outfielder Brett Eibner, who is 27 years old. He is reported to be a capable defender at all three positions, most notably having a good throwing arm due to a history of pitching, as well as containing some pop in his bat at the expense of some contact. While he is older than a typical prospect, the Royals long had quite the outfield logjam, keeping him from getting consistent playing time on the big league roster, and the A's have had a long history of success with aging prospects who were falling out of favor with their former organizations. Eibler will likely see time with the A's this season and soon.

Today's Lineups

Jed Lowrie - 2B Rajai Davis - CF
Jake Smolinski - CF Jason Kipnis - 2B
Josh Reddick - RF Francisco Lindor - SS
Khris Davis - LF Mike Napoli - 1B
Danny Valencia - 3B Carlos Santana - DH
Yonder Alonso - 1B Jose Ramirez - LF
Billy Butler - DH Juan Uribe - 3B
Marcus Semien - SS Abraham Almonte - RF
Bruce Maxwell - C Chris Gimenez - C
Dillon Overton - LHP Josh Tomlin - RHP