The Oakland Athletics will try to avoid a sweep Sunday morning when they wrap up a three-game series in Houston against the Astros. The A’s dropped Friday’s opener 5-1 and then fell again Saturday 3-2 despite a good outing from JP Sears. James Kaprielian will start for Oakland in the finale against tough Astros lefty Framber Valdez.
Drew Rucinski was originally slated to start Sunday, but he was placed on the 15-day injured list Saturday with a stomach illness which opened the door again for Kaprielian. Kaprielian began the season in the rotation, but struggled and was eventually moved to the bullpen and then back to Triple A. He was called up last week to make a spot start where he logged a season-high seven innings while allowing six hits and three runs. Despite the good outing, he was sent back to Las Vegas after the game, but it looks like he has a chance to stick in the rotation this time with Rucinski out.
The Astros are dealing with a number of injuries in their rotation, but Valdez has been a stabilizing force. He enters Sunday’s start with a 2.84 ERA, 3.12 FIP and a 28.1% strikeout rate in 57 innings. Valdez is coming off of his worst start of the season statistically allowing seven hits and four runs in just four innings against the Cubs last time out. He did log eight strikeouts in that start and has struck out at least eight hitters in four of his last five starts.
Esteury Ruiz continues to set the table at the top of the order for the A’s. Ruiz added two more hits and two more stolen bases in Saturday’s game. He now has four-straight multi-hit games and is riding a five-game hitting streak. Ruiz is now carrying a .350 on-base percentage despite a 3.9% walk-rate and has a 112 wRC+ for the season.
Brent Rooker snapped out of an 0-for-10 stretch with two hits in Saturday’s game. Rooker drove in one of Oakland’s two runs, with the other coming on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Noda.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, May 21, 11:10 a.m. PDT
Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
Radio: A’s Cast, Bloomberg 960 AM / 103.7 HD2