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Game #21: A's at Angels

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Andrew Villa-USA TODAY Sports

In an attempt to educate my fellow members of A's Nation, let's begin today's game preview with a Rudyard Kipling line from the classic poem, "The Ballad of the East and West."

"OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat..."

Question: What does a random line from a 1800's Kipling poem have to do with 2017 A's baseball?
Answer: The East is East and the West is West and for the A's, it is all about the West.

The A's season will be won or lost depending on how well they compete against their fellow division rivals in the West. Last season the A's went a discouraging 29-47 (.382) against division teams on their way to a last place finish.
This month, the green and gold play all but 3 of their 25 April games against their A.L. West division counterparts. The season is still young, but this week's six road games against western division competition are still really important. (Which makes last night's extra innings loss particularly tough).

But the great thing about baseball is that every day is a new day and the A's put 25 year old, Sean Manaea (1-1, 4.43 era in 4 starts) on the mound tonight at 7:07pm against the Angels and Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.98 in 4 starts). If Manaea vs.Shoemaker sounds familiar, well it should, The two pitchers took the mound in the same game earlier this month in game #2 of the 2017 season, a game that the A's ultimately dropped 7-6. Manaea didn't have his best command in that first start of the young season, going 6 innings, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits and issuing 2 walks (this was the game Ryan Dull came in to close the 9th inning, only to see Danny Espinosa tag him for a go ahead 3 run homer).

Manaea picked himself up from two early season mediocre starts and has been absolutely dominating over his last two starts (1-0, 1.64 ERA, 12 Strikeouts in 11 innings). He and the A's will try to ride this momentum into tonight's game against the weak hitting Angels (hitting .232 as a team through 20 games).

Here are tonight's line-ups:

Today's Lineups

Jaff Decker - CF Yunel Escobar - 3B
Jed Lowrie - 2B Kole Calhoun - RF
Ryon Healy - DH Mike Trout - CF
Khris Davis - LF Albert Pujols - DH
Stephen Vogt - C Jefry Marte - 1B
Yonder Alonso - 1B Andrelton Simmons - SS
Trevor Plouffe - 3B Danny Espinosa - 2B
Matt Joyce - RF Cameron Maybin - LF
Adam Rosales - SS Martin Maldonado - C
Sean Manaea - LHP Matt Shoemaker - RHP

Here are 5 things to know as you head into following tonight's game:
#1 - Jed Lowrie better drink an energy drink before game time.
In Manaea's first start of 2017 against the Angels, he induced 9 groundball outs, 5 of these groundballs went directly to the 2nd basemen and 2 others produced double plays involving Lowrie.

#2 - Speaking of game time, why do games at Anaheim Stadium start at the weird time of 7:07pm?According to Dave Hogg, a long time journalist covering the Tigers in Detroit, "each TV network negotiates a start time with the team as part of their contract. The more minutes they get, the more commercials they can sneak in between the top of the hour and the beginning of the game."

#3 - In the bottom of the 4th inning of tonight's game, run an errand, grab a beverage or snack, finish homework or take a cat nap Thru 20 games the A's have amazingly not given up one run in the 4th inning! (this obscure stat is brought to you by the outstanding A's media relations department)

#4 - If you come back after the bottom of the 4th inning and Sean Manaea still has a no-hitter going...
Know that the last no-hitter thrown against the Angels occurred over 18 years ago (Eric Milton, September 11, 1999 at Minnesota) (stat courtesy of the Angels Media Relations Department)

#5 - If the game begins to slow down in the later innings with pitching changes, you owe it to yourself to read these two incredibly powerful articles by Matt Shoemaker and Yonder Alonso.
Yonder Alonso's story
Matt Shoemaker's Story

In the words of Crazy George, "get on your feet people, let's hear some noise, 1...2...3...Let's go A's, Let's go A's, Let's go A's...."