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Game Thread #105: A’s at Rockies

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Good afternoon and welcome to another exciting installment of your 2018 Oakland Athletics Baseball: “Don’t Reach for that Remote” edition. The red-hot A’s (and really, they’re so much hotter than that) look to make it a clean sweep this week; they haven’t lost a game since last Friday night (despite being down 10-2 in the seventh in one of them), plowing through the Giants in both Saturday and Sunday’s games and absolutely decimating the Texas Rangers in the heat of Arlington in this week’s four game sweep, in which they kept us riveted to our televisions every night right after work from Monday to Thursday. It was glorious. I’m not sure the A’s have had a hotter team since the famous 20-game win streak of 2002, where every pitch, every hit, every decision, and every scoreboard change was documented, commented, and celebrated quite like this.

And now it’s Friday night, and the A’s are keeping the entertainment going for our hot summer weekend, boasting an almost-unbelievable 18-games-over-.500 record coming into tonight’s game, looking for win number seven in a row. As a team is wont to do as they reel off win after win, they have closed the gap to a mere game behind Seattle, 5.5 behind the Yankees, and 6.0 behind the AL West Division leading Astros. By June 18 in the early season, the Astros’ lead had ballooned to 12 games, and a little over five weeks later, the A’s have now shaved it in half. Most striking, of course, is the Seattle gap; on June 18, the A’s were 10 full games behind Seattle; tonight it stands at just one. The A’s aren’t a playoff team yet, but they have done literally everything within their power to be where they are, right on the cusp of the second Wild Card, with their sights firmly set on the AL West crown.

Tonight will be a difficult challenge, considering most of the A’s “A” bullpen is unavailable. Blake Treinen, fresh off three saves in a row (two of them most unexpected, yet entirely welcomed), will not pitch tonight, and both Familia and Trivino threw 30 pitches in last night’s contest. Likely the only available pitcher to close the game is Familia (if even!) so the A’s offense, who scored 41 runs in the Texas series (averaging 10 runs a game) will need to rack up a run count high enough to use the “B” bullpen when the time comes. Of course, Sean Manaea needs to go as long as he can, while tempering the Rockies’ scoring in their own ballpark in this interleague matchup.

The A’s will try their hot hand against Kyle Freeland, who has been pretty good for the Rockies this year, notching an 8-6 record, 3.28 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. I mean, I don’t think the A’s actually care who is on the mound these days; their formula remains the same; drive up the pitch count, remove the pitcher from the game, feast on the middle-relief bullpen, outscore their opponent, turn the game over to their own bullpen.

The game has the added fun of being in Colorado, so if the Texas series wasn’t enough of a barn-burner for you, this weekend in Coors should produce some more runs. I’m guessing the A’s aren’t taking a lot of batting practice these days.

Here are your lineups as the A’s go for a vaunted seven in a row:

Today’s Lineups

Marcus Semien - SS Charlie Blackmon - CF
Matt Chapman - 3B Ian Desmond - 1B
Jed Lowrie - 2B Nolan Arenado - 3B
Khris Davis - LF Trevor Story - SS
Stephen Piscotty - RF Noel Cuevas - LF
Matt Olson - 1B Carlos Gonzalez - RF
Mark Canha - CF Garrett Hampson - 2B
Jonathan Lucroy - C Chris Iannetta - C
Sean Manaea - LHP Kyle Freeland - LHP