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Game #134: A’s at Houston

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Minnesota Twins
Trevor Cahill will try to pull a (white) rabbit out of a hat in shutting down the Astros in today’s rubber match of the three game series
Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Cahill (5-3, 3.44 ERA) takes the mound for the A’s in today final game of the three game set versus the Astros. Cahill will be opposed by Astros Lefthander, Dallas Keuchel (10-10, 3.54 ERA) in the late morning (11:10am pst) matchup.

A’s Stack Their Line-Up With Righthanded Bats Against Keuchel
Using eight right-handed bats in their line-up in all three games against Dallas Kuechel (Matt Olson has been the lone lefty), the A’s offense has battered Keuchel in two of his first three starts against them in 2018. Back in April (April 27th in Houston), the A’s were blanked by the lefty for four innings before posting six runs in his last three innings of work. Chad Pinder, Matt Chapman and Mark Canha all tagged him for homeruns. Then ten days later in Oakland, Keuchel held the A’s to one run in eight innings of work, with Chad Pinder being the only one to get an extra base hit off of him. On August 18th, the boys in Green and Gold got sweet revenge from May, posting five runs on nine hits in 5 2/3rds innings of work against Keuchel. Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty both doubled twice off the bearded lefty. In today’s game, the A’s will once again feature eight righthanded bats vs. Keuchel.

Here are today’s line-ups from Minute Maid Park (11:10am pst, Roof Closed, TV - MLB Network - No NBC/Comcast Broadcast; Radio - 95.7 The Game):

Today's Lineups

Marcus Semien - SS George Springer - CF
Matt Chapman - 3B Alex Bregman - 3B
Jed Lowrie - 2B Jose Altuve - 2B
Khris Davis - DH Carlos Correa - SS
Stephen Piscotty - RF Tyler White - DH
Matt Olson - 1B Yuli Gurriel - 1B
Chad Pinder - LF Josh Reddick - RF
Ramon Laureano - CF Max Stassi - C
Josh Phegley - C Tony Kemp - LF

5 Things to Watch For In Today’s Game:

1. No Place Like Home
Cahill has struggled away from Oakland in 2018. In the friendly (and foul ground) confines of the Coliseum, he is 4-0 with a 0.85 ERA in 8 home starts. Living out of a suitcase on the road, Cahill is 1-3 with a 6.92 era in 8 road starts this season. The descrepancy in home vs. road starts led some to believe that Bob Melvin would push Cahill back a day to start tomorrow (Thursday) when the A’s are back home against the Mariners. But with this being the last game of the season against the division leading Astros, Melvin is sticking with the veteran pitcher. Although the Cahill’s numbers on the road aren’t great, the A’s as a team are 41-27 (.597) on the road and have the third best road record in the majors.

2. Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye
Old school A’s fans, will fondly remember in the 1980’s, the Colisuem PA would blast the Steam 1969 song Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” featuring the best conga drum solo in the history of music (Yes, you heard me correctly Carlos Santana) whenever a visting team would take out a pitcher. In a odd scheduling quirk, the A’s will say “goodbye” to the Astros after today for the rest of the 2018 Regular Season. After today, the Astros have 29 games left in the regular season. Among those 29 games are three games in Fenway against the Red Sox and three at home against the Diamondbacks. However the ‘Stros also face AL East cupcakes, the Tigers, Blue Jays and Orioles in nine of those contests. The A’s have 27 games left after today with three at home against both the Mariners and Yankees this weekend and early next week. Both teams end the 2018 regular season with back to back road series. Lots of baseball left!

3. Sign Stealing ‘Stros
The A’s pitchers and catchers will be careful with signs today as earlier in this series, Brett Anderson wondered aloud if the Astros hitters were tipped off about what pitch was coming. Derek Holland when he was with the Rangers in 2016, wondered the same thing.
The Rangers, Robinson Chirinos, accused the Astros of the same violation last summer,
“Knowing when we played with Carlos Beltran here last year, the guys (on the Astros) steal signs like crazy on second base. That’s why I was going to the mound every pitch, switching signs, making sure those guys wouldn’t relay signs to the hitter. I think when we struck out Correa, we switched the signs just before he went to hit; if you see his swing, he was late because they thought we were trying the slider. (...) it’s because they were relaying the wrong signs from second base. We knew that when we went to play in Houston, that’s just something we have to do when we’re playing Houston because we know those guys are relaying signs when they have a guy on second base. That’s when I was moving in, going away, doing this (...) just to play with the guys on second base.

Last night’s A’s-Astros game took three hours and 21 minute to play, largely because A’s catcher Jonathan Lucroy was being so methodical and careful about relaying signs to his pitchers. Look for the same today...

4. T.G.I.F.
The deadline to acquire a player thru waivers and have the player eligible to play in the post-season is this Friday. It seems the Astros and A’s don’t care. Both Astros GM Jeff Ludlow and A’s GM David Forst told the media this week, they didn’t expect to make a trade before Friday’s roster deadline.
(Please Forst/Beane, we could use Shin-Soo Choo and Gio Gonzales!!)

And we know no one in sports ever lies to the media...

5. A’s (+) Relievers Should Be Good To Go Today
The A’s used four of their five “plus” relievers last night, Shawn Kelly (13 pitches), Fernando Rodney (12 pitches), Jeurys Familia (18 pitches) and Blake Treinen (10 pitches). But with all throwing under 20 pitches last night and with all having a days rest on Monday, they each should be available today. For the Astros, lead set-up men, Pressley (11 pitches last night) and Rondon (18 pitches last night) will be available as well, but I am guessing Houston manager, A.J. Hinch would prefer to rest closer Roberto Osuna (23 pitches and the loss last night). Expect both bullpens to be a factorin the outcome of today’s game.

Hope you find a place at work, school, home, car, restaurant or Costco/Target/Best Buy TV section (how my brother and I used to watch sports on cable) to follow the game today. Should be an exciting contest. An entire two game swing is at stake today.
Let’s Go A’s!!!!