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Game Thread #122: Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Good evening, Happy Friday, and welcome to the biggest series of the 2018 season to date. It’s hard to overstate the importance of a three-game series head-to-head with the Division leaders; the team you are chasing for the pennant, yet in exactly the middle of August, with just over six weeks left in the 2018 season, here we are.

Obviously, I’m going to preface the dramatics with the very real fact that every single game since early July has felt playoff-esque as we have the world’s best dinner entertainment on our TVs or in our backyard, as is the case for the home games, and it has been four long years since baseball mattered in August. This team has already won; they’ve exceeded every expectation, given us a thrill a minute for weeks and weeks now, and have brought something like hope into a season that started out with very little.

But now they are here, literally a series sweep away from wresting the top spot away from the Astros for the first time all season; a series win away from closing the gap from two games to one. The Astros swept both series at the Coliseum early in the season (May and June), but turnabout is fair play as the A’s nearly pulled off the four-game sweep in Houston in July, settling instead for three out of four. With what should be double the crowd of the previous series, the hometown fans will do their best to root the A’s to victory.

Edwin Jackson is the next starter in line for the A’s today, trying to match Brett Anderson’s near-perfect performance on Wednesday, in which the A’s couldn’t score a single run to win. Jackson has been so, so much better than his projections; let’s hope that he has another great start in him. Facing off against him for the Astros is Charlie Morton, who has been terrific all year; all of their starters have. The Astros have a very low starting pitching ERA, and a run differential that rivals the Boston Red Sox; and yet, the A’s have so very nearly played them even. Let’s hope whatever that otherworldly magic is, it shows up tonight.

They’re not at full strength yet (they’re missing Altuve), but George Springer is back in the lineups for the Astros.

The A’s will be starting the usual suspcets, with Martini leading off. A martini sounds good.

Here are your lineups:

Today's Lineups

George Springer - CF Nick Martini - LF
Alex Bregman - 3B Matt Chapman - 3B
Yuli Gurriel - 2B Jed Lowrie - 2B
Carlos Correa - SS Khris Davis - DH
Marwin Gonzalez - LF Matt Olson - 1B
Evan Gattis - DH Stephen Piscotty - RF
Josh Reddick - RF Marcus Semien - SS
Tyler White - 1B Mark Canha - CF
Martin Maldonado - C Jonathan Lucroy - C