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Game #97: A’s vs. Mariners

Homer Bailey makes his debut for the green and gold in today’s afternoon contest

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics
Khris Davis and the A’s are looking to “Khrush” the Mariners in the finale of the two game home series
Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

Tokyo Dome is 5,138 miles away from the Oakland Coliseum. It was in this far off land that the A’s and Mariners first locked horns to open the 2019 baseball season. What we knew after that opening series from “The Land of the Rising Sun” was that Ichiro was officially retiring, the A’s had been swept by Seattle and Matt Olson was looking at surgery and a lengthy rehab. Five months and 96 games later, the A’s season is looking much brighter then it did when they left Tokyo in mid-March. They come into today’s game against the Mariners riding a five game winning streak, tied for the second wild card spot and welcoming a new starting pitcher to the team this afternoon in one David Dewitt Bailey, Jr., aka “Homer.”

Today’s Starting Line-ups (12:37pm, PST)

Seattle will go with an opener today
The Mariners, losers of four in a row and eight of their last ten, will go with a bullpen arm to begin today’s contest and then turn the ball over to former A’s lefty, Tommy Milone who is putting together a decent season (3.40 ERA in 50 innings with 49 strikeouts).

Is the city of Houston the new “Moneyball” secret for the A’s?
3/5th’s of the A’s starting rotation is from the Houston area.
Homer Bailey is from Le Grange, Texas (90 minutes outside of Houston). Brett Anderson lives in Fulshear (45 min outside of Houston) and Daniel Mengden lives in Houston (where he rescues dogs trapped in storm drains) Maybe the key to beating the Astros is “Fixin’ To” recruit and employ as many starting pitchers from “H-Town” as possible. And remember if you ever find yourself in the Lone Star State, Houstonians pronounce it, “Take Sis.”

Homer’s Odyssey
Bailey, drafted out of La Grange High School (where his favorite class was Agricultural mechanics taught by Mr. Moellenberndt) by the Cincinnati Reds in 2004 (1st round, 7th overall).

He reached the big league club in 2007 and enjoyed some success in his time with the Reds, throwing two no-hitters (2012 and 2013) and pitching in the division series for Cincinnati in 2013 against that team from across the Bay. He also experienced tremendous challenges as his 2014 thru 2017 campaigns were marred by arm injuries and his 2018 season saw him lose fourteen games with only one victory to his name.

After an off-season trade to the Dodgers (who released him the next day but still are paying the majority of his salary), Bailey was signed by the Kansas City Royals before being traded this past Sunday to the A’s for minor league infielder Kevin Merrell.

This season has been a great comeback year for Bailey (see JosephTDeClercq’s excellent AN’s analysis on Bailey’s success in 2019) and the A’s are hoping to capitalize on his recent hot streak (posting a 3.49 ERA over his past seven starts and allowing three earned runs or fewer in five of those starts). He has started twice for the Royals against the Mariners already in 2019, dropping his first start against them (allowing three home runs and seven earned runs), but excelling in his second go around against the M’s, throwing 7 23 innings of scoreless baseball with six strikeouts just three weeks ago.

Note: Bailey hasn’t pitched in 12 days, but he did get in a good bullpen session on Sunday...

“Homer at the Bat”
Playing most of his career in the National League, Bailey has 59 career hits in 369 at-bats for a .160 average. Why does this matter today when the A’s are employing a DH? It doesn’t really, but it is a perfect segue-way to bring up my favorite Simpsons episode of all time, “Homer At-Bat” starring, Mike Scioscia, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Clemens and Ozzie Smith.
In the infamous Softball episode, Mr. Burns, the manager of the Springfield Power Plant softball team, turns to Homer over Daryl Strawberry—despite Strawberry’s nine home runs so far in the game—because he doesn’t want the left-handed Strawberry to face a lefty pitcher. “It’s called playing the percentages,” Burns says. Distracted by Mr. Burns, the first pitch hits Homer in the head, rendering him unconscious, but forcing in the winning run and winning the title for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team (and a million dollars for Mr. Burns). Such a great episode!!!

Hope you get to sneak away from whatever responsibilities you normally have on a Wednesday afternoon and catch some of today’s game. Let’s Go Oak-Land!!!