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Game Thread #16: Oakland A’s vs. Houston Astros

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Going for the sweep!

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Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Eight-game winning streak! First place in the AL West by 4.5 games!

The Oakland A’s are off to the best start in the American League through the one-quarter mark of the short 2020 season. On Sunday, they go for a sweep of the Houston Astros, their (supposedly) top competition in the AL West division.

Leading the elephants’ charge is rookie pitcher Jesús Luzardo, making the second start of his MLB career. His first start went five scoreless innings and earned the third-best xwOBA of Oakland’s 15 offerings so far, and he wasn’t even at his best, so that’s exciting. The lefty faced the Astros last year in his MLB debut, and went three innings of relief with just one run allowed on a homer by ... Martin Maldonado? Huh, not who I would have guessed. He retired the other nine batters he faced that day, in a close A’s victory.

Going for Houston is right-hander Cristian Javier. The 23-year-old debuted this season and this is only his fourth career appearance, so he’ll be a new face for both the fans and the A’s themselves. His minor league stats are disgusting — last year, a 1.74 ERA and 13.5 K/9, in 113 innings. He doesn’t throw especially hard, just low/mid-90s, but he also uses a curve and slider that have been getting results and a changeup that has been slightly less effective.

Of course, it hasn’t much mattered who the opposing starter is this year. The A’s can never hit them, so they just wear them out until the bullpen comes in and then they beat the relievers instead. It’s not the easiest way to win, but it’s working for now!

First pitch is 1:10 p.m., with the following options to watch or listen:

  • TV: NBC Sports California
  • Radio: 960 AM
  • Online video stream: fuboTV
  • Online audio stream: iHeartRadio

A’s lineup (home)

  1. SS Marcus Semien (R)
  2. CF Ramon Laureano (R)
  3. 1B Matt Olson (L)
  4. 3B Matt Chapman (R)
  5. DH Mark Canha (R)
  6. LF Robbie Grossman (S)
  7. RF Stephen Piscotty (R)
  8. 2B Tony Kemp (L)
  9. C Austin Allen (L)
  • Jesús Luzardo, LHP

Maxing out the lefty bats to face the righty starter. Kemp is hot, Allen is suddenly clutch, and Grossman is off to a nice year so far and has also been clutch.

Astros lineup (away)

  1. 2B Jose Altuve (R)
  2. RF Josh Reddick (L)
  3. 3B Alex Bregman (R)
  4. DH Michael Brantley (L)
  5. 1B Yuli Gurriel (R)
  6. SS Carlos Correa (R)
  7. LF Kyle Tucker (L)
  8. CF Myles Straw (R)
  9. C Martin Maldonado (R)
  • Cristian Javier, RHP

Same guys, just a different order against the lefty starter. Tucker moves down, Reddick moves up.

Let’s Go Oakland!