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Game #93: A’s at Astros

Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros
Stephen Piscotty will look to increase his homer streak to 5 games tonight as the A’s take on Lance McCullers Jr. and the Astros
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Let’s not beat around the bush, last night’s loss is still stinging 24 hours later. Sure, the Verlander led Stros were supposed to win that game and yes we should be happy that the “never say die 2018 A’s” once again mounted an incredible comeback to send the game into bonus time. But have you ever seen a set of circumstances like what we witnessed last night in the 11th inning? Simply crazy. Much has already been written about the play and the inning, including excellent write-ups from our own Fredrick_Henry that you can read here and from SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee that you can read here.

I have 3 additional complaints from last night’s infamous 11th inning:
#1 - On Josh Reddick’s 3-2 check swing to open the inning, his wrists clearly broke the imaginary plane of the middle of home plate and somehow 3rd base umpire Larry Vanover determined he had held his swing and Reddick was awarded first base on ball four. Game changing call right there.
#2 - With Reddick aboard first base, Astros 21 year old rookie outfielder Preston Tucker hit a hard grounder in the hole between first and second. Perfect double play ball as the A’s had applied the shift to the lefty hitting Tucker!! Oh wait, no, the A’s had Lowrie positioned about 10 feet from the second base bag for some reason and the ball went through for a single.
#3 - On Bregman’s foul then fair than walk off hit, he held (and used) his bat, not once but twice to fend off Lucroy’s attempted tag. Since when could baserunners use their bat as a weapon when running to first?

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

But here is the beauty of Major League Baseball. As hard as last night’s loss is to take, the good news is that the A’s have a fresh start and a new ballgame to play tonight! Legendary Hall of Famer, Bob Feller, summed it up well, when he once said,
“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game ever day, and that’s the way baseball is.”

So hold your heads up high A’s Nation, today is a new day! On the hill for the A’s is 29 year-old righthander, Chris Bassitt. Bassitt has started 5 games for the A’s this season (1-3, 3.00 ERA), with the theme of those games being lots of strikeouts and walks on his end and little run support on the offensive end for the green and gold. He hasn’t pitched since July 3rd when he left the game prematurely in the 5th inning after being inadvertently spiked by the Padres Eric Hosmer.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Bassitt is pitching tonight to save his spot in the rotation, so look for him to be highly motivated. And in the words of the character “Babe” from Chris’ favorite baseball movie, Sandlot, “Let me tell you something kid; Everybody gets one chance to do something great. Most people never take the chance, either because they’re too scared, or they don’t recognize it when it spits on their shoes.”

Oppossing Bassitt and the A’s for the Astros is Righthander, Lance McCullers Jr.
McCullers (10-3, 3.41 ERA) has started twice and won twice against the A’s so far in 2018 (12 innings, 4 runs allowed on 10 hits with 8 strikeouts). Look for a good battle between McCullers Jr and Matt Chapman tonight as part of the game within the game. Chapman got McCullers Jr. for 3 doubles when they last faced each other in June.

Here are tonight’s lineups from Minute Maid Park in Houston (first pitch is at 5:10pm, PST)

Today's Lineups

Dustin Fowler - CF George Springer - CF
Marcus Semien - SS Alex Bregman - SS
Jed Lowrie - 2B Jose Altuve - 2B
Khris Davis - DH Yuli Gurriel - 3B
Stephen Piscotty - RF Josh Reddick - RF
Matt Chapman - 3B Evan Gattis - DH
Mark Canha - 1B Kyle Tucker - LF
Chad Pinder - LF Tim Federowicz - C
Josh Phegley - C Tyler White - 1B
Chris Bassitt - RHP Lance McCullers - RHP

Bob Melvin is giving firstbasemen, Matt Olson, the night off tonight to rest his back, he is scheduled to be back in the line-up tomorrow. The A’s are catching a break tonight with the Astros being short-handed at shortstop. Outstanding shortstop, Carlos Correa is on the 10 Day DL until at least this weekend and his replacement, Marwin Gonzales, is also out of tonight’s game after being spiked by a Dustin Fowler slide at second base last night.

There are lots of exciting storylines ready to be written tonight. Will Chris Bassitt step up and deliver the start we have all been waiting for? Will Stephen Piscotty extend his homer streak to five games? Who will the Astros turn to in the bullpen after last night’s meltdown and Ken Giles demotion? Will Blake Treinen be available if the A’s have a save situation? Should be another great contest, see you in the comment section!