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Game Thread #16: A’s at Orioles

Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros
Frankie Montas takes the mound for the A’s tonight, his third start of the young season
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The A’s offense and pitching both had breakout games last night at Camden Yards, scoring 13 runs on 14 hits and holding the O’s offense to 2 runs on 7 hits in the 13-2 thrashing.

Tonight, the A’s hope Frankie Montas and the A’s bats will keep the momentum going as the A’s (7-8) face off against the Orioles (5-6) at 4:05pm PDT from Oriole Park at Camden Yards before an expected crowd of less than 10,000 Marylanders.

Francellis “Frankie” Montas Luna (1-1, 2.45 ERA)
It has been well documented that this is the make or break season for Frankie Montas. He is out of options and at twenty six year old, he is not longer a “young” prospect. Montas developed a split finger fastball over the winter and it has become a difference maker for the native of the San Cristóbal Province in the Dominican Republic (home to former A’s players, Jose Guillen, Santiago Casilla and Jose Rijo). In Montas’ first two starts of 2019 he has thrown his four seamed fastball 53.8% (96.7 mph/avg) of the time, his hard slider 24.3% (88.6 mph/avg) of the time and his newly developed split finger fastball 21.9% (86.4 mph/avg) of the time. The splitter (Dave Stewart called it a forkball) has become Montas’ off-speed pitch of choice and given him a real out pitch when hitters are sitting fastball or he is ahead in the count. The pitch also isn’t seen very often by major league hitters. Last season, only 16 pitchers in all of major league baseball threw a “splitter.” Why so few who throw split fingered fastballs? The reports are that splitters weaken your arm over time. Montas will take that risk for now, with so much on the line for him to pitch well and stick on the big league roster. The only Oriole to have ever faced Montas in a big league game is back-up catcher, Jesus Sucre (one at bat), so look for the big right-handed pitcher to have early inning success against Baltimore’s offense as most of their hitters see him for the first time.

A’s Going Up Against a Familiar Face: “Slider” Straily (0-0, 33.75 ERA)
Orioles counter the A’s with Right-hander, Dan Straily (yes that is his actual ERA, it is not a typo). Straily was originally drafted by the A’s in the 24th round of the 2009 MLB draft. Straily, who was born in Redlands, California, played parts of three season for the A’s (2012-2014) before being traded to the Cubs who then traded him to the Astros over the next off-season (2015), who then traded him to the Padres before the beginning of the 2016 season. The Padres quickly DFA’d Straily and he was picked up by the Reds for the 2016 season, who then traded him to the Marlins (2017), where he played for two years and was all set to pitch for again this season before surprisingly being DFA’d for the second time in his career right before the beginning of the 2019 season and then subsequently was picked up by the Orioles, his seventh major league team. Straily’s best pitch is his slider, a nasty pitch that breaks away and down from right handed hitters. Straily commented about the pitch a few years ago, “The one thing I was told early on is that it didn’t have a dot like most sliders do, and that’s why it’s good...It’s been that one pitch for me that’s always there. Of all the starts I’ve had in the big leagues, you can probably count on one hand the times it hasn’t been there for me.” Of the Oakland hitters, Stephen Piscotty (22.9 % of the time in 2018) and Khris Davis (21.1% of the time in 2018) face the most steady diet of sliders from opposing pitchers as scouts believe this is their weakness. Ironically, Piscotty (.300; 3-10) and Davis (.500; 1-2) both have had success versus Straily (albeit in limited at-bats).

Tonight’s Starting Line-Ups:

Tonight’s Weather Forecast
62 F at first pitch with a light 5 mph wind. Rain is projected over the weekend, so the A’s will just miss battling the elements before they get out of town after Thursday’s day game.

Useless But Interesting Stat About Triples
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is producing the second most triples per game so far in 2019 (trailing only the launching pad known as Coor’s Field in Denver). The A’s only have one triple on the young season (Jurickson Profar on March 28th against the Angels ). Twelve Major League teams have yet to hit a triple in 2019. The Kansas City Royals lead the league with six (KC Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi has three triples in ten games).

This Day in Baseball History
From “During the sixth inning of an exhibition game against their minor league team at Ebbets Field, the Montreal Royals, Dodgers’ president Branch Rickey issues a brief statement to the press. The two sentences will forever change the game when the team announces “The Brooklyn Dodgers today purchased the contract of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson from the Montreal Royals. He will report immediately.”

Movie Quote of the Day:
I will end our Game Preview with a great quote from the classic movie, “Patriot Games” based on the novel by Baltimore native and former Orioles part-owner, the late Tom Clancy:
“Victory comes only to those prepared to make it, and take it.” (Patriot Games, 1987)

Let’s Go Oakland!!!