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Game #110: A’s vs. Blue Jays

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics
Matt Chapman and the A’s go for the Sweep against the Blue Jays this afternoon. Any guess on how many “webgems” Chapman will rack up today?
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

As the A’s enter today’s afternoon contest looking for the three game sweep, they find themselves seventeen games over .500 , one game out of the 2nd wildcard position and only five games behind the division leading Astros. How is this A’s team, this good?

Look no further than Matt “W.A.R.” Chapman:
Athletics Nation has devoted a lot of space to celebrating “Chappy’s” impact on the team over the course of this season, but it is worth highlighting again today. Since Chapman returned from the 10 Day DL (Thumb) on July 3rd, he has hit .322 (29 for 90), reached base in 17 consecutive game and is batting .356 (21-for-59) with 17 runs, five doubles, two triples, three home runs, nine RBI, nine walks (2 hbp, 1 sf, .451 on-base percentage) and seven multiple hit games during this current streak. On the defensive side of the ball, Chapman continues to turn in nightly highlights like this one from last night:

BoMel, celebrating his 600th career win as the A’s manager last night, took time to note Chapman’s impact on last night’s game and the season:

Chapman’s new role in the batting order:
Melvin has slotted Chapman in the #2 hole of the batting order for the last 5 games, which seems like the logical place to put him due to his recent hitting streak and the balance this gives the A’s line-up with switch hitter Jed Lowrie and DH Khris Davis hitting behind him. Chapman finds himself batting second in the line-up once again this afternoon as the A’s look for the sweep against the Blue Jays.

Good News: Today’s starter, Sean Manaea, is really good in afternoon starts:
Starting on the mound for the A’s today is Left-hander, Sean Manaea.
Manaea (9-7, 3.46 ERA), took the loss in Colorado last Friday night to break his win streak at four. But be encouraged, he is thriving in day games this season going 5-0 with a 2.95 ERA in 9 starts so far this season and has a 11 game win streak in his day starts dating back to 2017. Manaea is also giving up the 3rd fewest walks of any starting pitcher in the American League in 2018 (1.60 walks per 9 innings). Manaea struggled when he faced the Blue Jays up in Canada in May, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings, but that start was during his overall rough stretch of starts in May.

Good News, Part II: Blue Jays Starter, Marcus Stroman, has struggled in day game starts in 2018:
On the flip side, Toronto’s starter today, Marcus Stroman, has been roughed up in his matinee starts in 2018, to a tune of 1-3, 4.91 ERA in 5 day game starts. Stroman hasn’t only struggled during the day but all season, as he is 4-7 with a 5.20 ERA in 14 starts in 2018. Much of the blame for Stroman’s tough season can be blamed on shoulder problems that put him on the DL for over a month earlier in the season. Stroman was rumored to be part of deadline deals yesterday, but he finds himself the day after the deadline still pitching for the Blue Jays.

Speaking of the Trade Deadline:
I like most of us here in A’s Nation was bummed the A’s didn’t make a move yesterday (Shin-Soo Choo anyone?!!!). However, it is good to remember that sometimes the biggest in-season adjustments that impact a team’s success don’t come at the trade deadline, but in more subtle ways, such as the way the A’s have added 3 starting pitchers since they broke camp in March (Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Edwin Jackson) and ridden the hot hand of guys like Nick Martini and Lou Trivino who both began the season in Triple AAA Nashville. Also, don’t look now, but the A’s could be prepping a future star lefthanded starting pitcher to join the team soon:

I could see Luzardo becoming a middle innings specialist (the lefty version of Petit) in the final month of the A’s season, much like David Price was for the Rays when he first came up to the big leagues.

And the July 31st trade deadline, doesn’t mean the team still can’t add additional support in the month of August:

Did you Know?
Speaking of A’s GM, David Forst, he wasn’t the bonus baby first round pick that Billy Beane was, but did you know Forst, the former captain of the Harvard baseball team played for the Springfield Capitals of the independent Frontier League in 1998 (batting .280/.350/.320; playing primarily third base) and 1999 (batting .294/.362/.376; playing primarily shortstop)?Could we see a Player/GM combo for the stretch run??

Here are today’s line-ups from Oakland (Sunny, 63 F, wind 11 mph):

Today's Lineups

Randal Grichuk - CF Nick Martini - LF
Teoscar Hernandez - RF Matt Chapman - 3B
Justin Smoak - 1B Stephen Piscotty - RF
Kendrys Morales - DH Khris Davis - DH
Yangervis Solarte - 2B Matt Olson - 1B
Russell Martin - C Mark Canha - CF
Aledmys Diaz - SS Marcus Semien - SS
Brandon Drury - 3B Jonathan Lucroy - C
Darnell Sweeney - LF Franklin Barreto - 2B