The Oakland A’s are back in the swing of things after missing most of a week to various postponements. They dropped two of three to the hot San Diego Padres, but they played well in the final two games and appear to be properly up to speed.
Now comes perhaps the most crucial series of the regular season. The Houston Astros are coming to town to play five games, half of the two sides’ entire season series together. They were originally scheduled for four but will add another on Tuesday (for a doubleheader) to make up for a coronavirus postponement during their recent trip to Houston.
This series could well decide the AL West division. The A’s are up by 3.5 games with around 20 to play, and if they gain ground this week then it will be tough for the Astros to catch up without any more head-to-head opportunities. Or, if Houston sweeps, they could emerge with the outright lead in the standings, with all the momentum pointing their way for the final two weeks. Both teams will almost certainly make the playoffs (although the Seattle Mariners are somehow approaching relevance despite not even trying to win), but there will be a notable advantage to whoever takes the division crown.
- 2020 record: 21-19
The injuries just keep coming. Now it’s Jose Altuve, who went on the injured list with a knee problem. Count him out for all five games.
Furthermore, star third baseman Alex Bregman isn’t back yet from his pulled hammy, though word is he will be activated on Tuesday for the twin-bill (have to assume he’ll only play one of those games though?).
In other words, the A’s are without two star infielders in Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman, but the Astros are as well between Altuve and Bregman. Fortunately, three of those names could be back on the field at some point during the series, as Semien and Chapman are both considered day-to-day for now.
Houston also just lost starting pitcher Lance McCullers to a neck injury. The right-hander put up a quality start against Oakland in their last meeting.
But Houston’s current fortunes can be summed up thusly: The Mariners are closer to catching them (2.5 games) than the Astros are to catching the A’s (3.5). Not really what anyone in the Lone Star State was hoping for.
- CF George Springer (R)
- RF Josh Reddick (L)
- LF Michael Brantley (L)
- 1B Yuli Gurriel (R)
- DH Kyle Tucker (L)
- SS Carlos Correa (R)
- 2B Aledmys Diaz (R)
- 3B Abraham Toro (S)
- C Dustin Garneau (R)
Without Altuve or Bregman, there are now some relatively easier outs at the bottom of the order, or at least not All-Star caliber hitters in all nine spots. Look out for Tucker, who basically won both games of the last doubleheader against Oakland on his own.
These are the five expected starters:
- Mon: Cristian Javier (R) vs. Chris Bassitt (6:00 p.m.)
- Tue #1: Zack Greinke (R) vs. Frankie Montas (3:10 p.m.)
- Tue #2: TBD () vs. Mike Minor (6:10 p.m.)
- Wed: Luis Garcia (R) vs. Jesús Luzardo (6:10 p.m.)
- Thu: Jose Urquidy (R) vs. Sean Manaea (12:40 p.m.)
Well, four. Still waiting to find out who will start the second game on Tuesday.
This will be Garcia’s second MLB game and first MLB start, which gives an idea of how decimated the Astros’ pitching staff has become. We’ll get our first look at Urquidy after he missed the beginning of the season. The right-hander faced Oakland once last year and struck out 10 batters.
Oh, and another seven-inning game against Greinke, which is kind of unfair with no chance against the bullpen behind him.
Here’s the Astros’ full 28-man roster:
Zack Greinke (R)
Framber Valdez (L)
Jose Urquidy (R)
Cristian Javier (R)
Luis Garcia (R)
Ryan Pressly (R)
Brandon Bielak (R) Humberto Castellanos (R)
Chase De Jong (R)
Enoli Paredes (R)
Brad Peacock (R)
Cionel Perez (L)
Brooks Raley (L)
Andre Scrubb (R)
Cy Sneed (R)
Martin Maldonado (R)
Dustin Garneau (R)
Garrett Stubbs (L)
Yuli Gurriel (R)
Carlos Correa (R)
Jack Mayfield (R)
Abraham Toro (S)
Taylor Jones (R)
Michael Brantley (L)
Josh Reddick (L)
George Springer (R)
Myles Straw (R)
Kyle Tucker (L)
10-day IL: RHP Justin Verlander (forearm), RHP Chris Devenski (elbow), RHP Josh James (hip), RHP Lance McCullers (neck), RHP Roberto Osuna (elbow), LHP Blake Taylor (elbow), 2B Jose Altuve (knee), 3B Alex Bregman (hamstring)
45-day IL: RHP Rogelio Armenteros (elbow), RHP Austin Pruitt (elbow), DH Yordan Alvarez (knee)
Restricted: LHP Kent Emanuel (PEDs), RHP Joe Smith (opt out?)