Lots of the MLB is currently going streaking. The Cleveland Indians have won fifteen consecutive games and finally have an opportunity to beat the A’s record of consecutive games won at twenty, as well as have a record that reflects the talent level of the team. In the National League, the underrated Arizona Diamondbacks have won thirteen games in a row and have awarded themselves with a commanding Wild Card lead in the first slot. The Diamondbacks’ streak could not have come at a better time for the franchise, due to the fact that the hottest team in baseball, occupying first place in their division, the Dodgers, have shockingly lost seven straight ball games and now “only” have a ten game lead in the division. Not to be outdone by the boys in blue, the A’s had lost eight games in a row before their victory over the Angels Wednesday afternoon. Oakland now never needs to face the Angels again this season, and after Wednesday’s kerfuffle, assuredly very few people will miss the team from not-Los Angeles.
· Houston: 86-53
· Anaheim: 72-68
· Texas: 70-69
· Seattle: 69-71
· Oakland: 59-80
Also streaking are the Houston Astros, coming into town looking the strongest the team has been since quite a few months ago in the first half of the season. Since getting spurned by the Texas Rangers, understandably or not, in the wake of the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, the Astros have been hot, sweeping the Mets at home before sweeping the Mariners on the road. The Astros now have something much bigger to play for than a championship, the team is playing for a city in need of healing, and winning and going far in the playoffs is one of the best ways for people in Houston to find joy and some semblance of normalcy once more.
The Astros also finally received a shot in the arm via trades since the last time Oakland and Houston met. Houston’s front office justifiably received a lot of criticism from analysts, fans, and even their own players, for not making any major moves at the trade deadline in July, opting to keep their prospects and forge ahead with the guys that they had. Fortunately, the trading doesn’t have to end in July, and on August 31st the Astros made a couple of trades. For minimal cost the team got Cameron Maybin from the Angels, and for major cost (in terms of both money owed and prospects given up) the team got Justin Verlander from the Tigers. The former move allows the Astros to have another threat on the base paths who is also generally good at outfield defense, the latter move makes the Astros’ starting rotation look more playoff-worthy.
The A’s are a horrendous 3-12 against Houston this year, the Astros getting their revenge for the 2013 season, so perhaps it is for the best that these two teams won’t be facing each other anymore after this four game series. Due to the nature of the American League standings this season, this will be the first series that does not have a significant Wild Card impact for the A’s opponent in well over a month, back when the team faced the Giants in early August, as well as the last time the A’s and Astros faced each other in mid-August. However, the Astros are currently playing for something even bigger than the Wild Card, and the A’s, nor the rest of the league, shouldn’t expect them to be stepping off of the throttle between now and November.
Friday, September 8th at 7:05 PM – Jharel Cotton vs Collin McHugh
Saturday, September 9th at 1:05 PM – Daniel Mengden vs Charlie Morton
Saturday, September 9th at TBD – Daniel Gossett vs Brad Peacock
Sunday, September 10th at 1:05 PM – Kendall Graveman vs Dallas Keuchel
How the A’s Win the Series
Saturday’s double header will be making up a game that was rained out in mid-April (on a day that saw no rain). Saturday is also the day of the AN Meetup, so there is no better time to get out to the stadium and support the team you love.
At the very least, the A’s are playing at home and have an offense and defense supported by Matts Olson and Chapman. Under the leadership of the newest generation of A’s, this team is no longer the worst defensive team the world of baseball has ever seen, and the future is looking bright for the position player side of the team. Against the Astros relatively weak pitching staff, considering Houston’s performance over the entire season, the A’s shouldn’t have any trouble putting runs on the board and putting pressure on Houston’s bullpen.
However, for whatever steps forward the youngest position players have taken, most pitchers have taken a leap or two backwards. All four of the A’s starters set to pitch have had troubles keeping the ball in the yard, and will be taken to task in trying to contain the Astros ridiculously good offense. While the A’s shouldn’t expect to give any runs away at this point, the improved defense can’t do anything about balls that land over the fence. If the A’s pitching can limit the long ball from the Astros, there is always a chance.