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Series #10: Athletics at Blue Jays - A New Star Is Hatching

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MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Toronto Blue Jays Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, before the three game set between the A’s and Blue Jays, a rumor was teased out on Twitter that one Vladimir Guerrero, Jr was set to be called up after dominating Triple A for a couple of weeks this season. This rumor, to the dismay of the general public, was found to be false, and Guerrero stayed down. Since those rumors, Guerrero has gotten a hit in every game he’s played for the Buffalo Bisons, including another home run and a couple of runs batted in. Now, after the Blue Jays have returned to home, it has become clear that the Blue Jays wanted to save the debut of his likely long and storied career to be in front of the home fans.

So while the A’s narrowly avoided the historic debut of a likely superstar last week, they don’t get the same luck again this week. Of course, witnessing the debut of a likely superstar is an exciting thing, even if it leads to some extra nail-biting in the later stages of the game.

Last week when the A’s played the Jays, things did not go so well. In fact, things went disastrously. The Jays outscored the A’s 20-6 in a three game sweep, and in no game did the A’s ever seem like they had even the slightest chance of victory. Against Toronto’s top three starting pitchers, Marcus Stroman, Matt Shoemaker, and Aaron Sanchez, the A’s appeared lost at the plate and the team couldn’t string any hits together. Against Toronto’s offense, Aaron Brooks and Mike Fiers struggled to put guys away and got hit hard with ducks on the pond, and Brett Anderson was tightrope-walking through his start before getting pulled for an injury himself. All in all, it was poor play by the A’s all around in a series where the team should have won a minimum of two games.

The Jays have only played two games since their sweep of the A’s, as they hosted the characterless, mediocre team from the characterless, mediocre western part of the Bay Area. Surprisingly, despite playing in Toronto, the Giants managed to stifle the Blue Jays in each game and swept the short series. Old friend and proxy to the best trade for the A’s in recent memory for Oakland Jeff Samardzija stifled the Blue Jays in game one of the series, and Old NOT-friend, chair-puncher, and proxy to the worst stretch of trades for the A’s in recent memory Drew Pomeranz shut out the Blue Jays in game two of the series.

The primary reason the A’s were swept last week was that the lineup simply couldn’t solve Stroman, Shoemaker, and Sanchez. Unfortunately for him and the Blue Jays, Shoemaker injured his knee during his start against the A’s and will miss the remainder of 2019, another frustrating injury in what must be a frustrating big league career. However, the A’s will face Stroman and Sanchez in the first two games of this series, and so hopefully last week, at the very, very least, served as a learning experience for the lineup and A’s hitters won’t be so crossed up at the plate. Playing in the band box that is the Blue Jays’ home field will probably help as well.

Playing on the Blue Jays’ home field likely won’t help Fiers, on the flip side, whose unsightly 8.28 ERA is far worse than even Fiers’ detractors could have anticipated. There is no way Fiers will continue to pitch this poorly (one would hope), but his struggles are the primary reason that the A’s rotation looks disastrous and not merely mediocre. A healthy Anderson will have a chance to redeem his last start as well, and his grounder inducing abilities will play better than Fiers’ stuff will. Chris Bassitt, starting the third game of this series, will have a chance to prove that his first start wasn’t a fluke and that he should be a rotation mainstay after years of being shuffled and pussyfooted around.

It was said last week, and it will be said again. The A’s should sweep this series. The team got its revenge on Texas with a sweep after bungling up their first series against them the week prior, and now it is time to do the same to Toronto. The A’s are in striking distance of first place as of now, and the team can make both the Astros and Mariners sweat if the team keeps its foot on the gas pedal.

Potential Lineup

1. CF Randal Grichuk

2. SS Freddy Galvis

3. 1B Justin Smoak

4. LF Teoscar Hernandez

5. DH Rowdy Tellez

6. 3B Vladimir Guerrero, Jr

7. 2B Brandon Drury

8. RF Billy McKinney

9. C Danny Jansen

Pitching Matchups

Mike Fiers vs Marcus Stroman

Brett Anderson vs Aaron Sanchez

Chris Bassitt vs Trent Thorton

Game Information

Game #28: Friday, April 26th at 4:07

Game #29: Saturday, April 27th at 12:07

Game #30: Sunday, April 28th at 10:07

All games are on NBCSCA. Friday night’s game is on MLB Network for those who live outside of the Bay Area.