Houston at Oakland , 9:05 pm (CT)
The Astros are right smack dab in the middle of the American League West pennant race. Except opposing teams are expecting sweeps instead of playoff spoilers. Both the Rangers and Athletics had seven games left with the Astros coming into last friday. The Rangers' four-game sweep over the Astros took them to 9-1 in their last ten game.Can the A's match the four spot up already by the Rangers? Can the Astros actually show up?
Let's take a look at the A's offense coming into this series, focusing the post all-star break stats and last six game respectfully. Josh Reddick has had recent explosion of power the last few days - batting .200 while leading the team in home runs (6) and runs batted in (16) since the break. Reddick is batting .286 (7-21) with five home runs and eight runs batted in over his last six games. Eric Sogard has hit is way into keeping his playing time at second - hitting .339 with 11 runs batted since the break. He has cooled a bit this week, batting .278 in his last 18 at-bats.
Former Astro Jed Lowrie leads the team in hits (23) and doubles (7) after the All-Star break, and is batting .240 in his last 25 at-bats with four runs batted in. The Cuban phenom, Yoenis Cespedes, doesn't appear to have recovered from the Home Run Derby yet. He batting .225 since the event and .154 over his last 26 at-bats with seven strikeouts. Alberto Callaspo was traded for Grant Green at the deadline. Callaspo is batting .500 in last 14 at-bats with four runs batted it. It may not be the same as the Astros' #deathbycatcher, but A's backstops Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt are batting a collective .500 (12 -24) with four runs batted in over the A's last six games.
Tonight's starter for the A's will so be co-staring with Erik Bedard in a baseball remake of Prestige. Bartolo Colon has resurrected his career in Oakland. This will be his third straight season of pitching over 150 innings, before joining the Yankees he hadn't done that after 2006. The right-hander is once again at the top of the league when it comes to limiting walks. Colon has only issued 24 walks over 150.1 innings pitched. Colon will live and die by his location, he can no longer overpower with the fastball. He is 2-0 against the Astros this season, with a 2.08 ERA, zero walks, and 11 strikeouts.
Jose Altuve and Jason Castro have had their way with Colon in nine at-bats each. Altuve has four his, and Castro has six with a home run and three runs batted in against the righty. Castro have been on a bit of a hot stretch, batting .467 over has last 15 at-bats with three extra-base hits and three runs batted in. Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez hasn't had the same kind of luck, Trogdor is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts and Matty-D is 1-for-7 with two strikeouts against Colon. Not helping matters, more then half the starting lineup is batting at or around .200 over their last six games - Dominguez (.048), Brett Wallace (.150), Brandon Barnes (.167), L.J. Hoes (.200), and Robbie Grossman (.208).
As for Houston's starter, Jordan Lyles has hit a bump in the road to say the least. Since July, Lyles has a record of 0-3 with a 8.35 ERA in six starts. Lyles has given up nine or more hits in his last three starts. He is still young, this the only second season Lyles has pitched 100+ innings at the major league level.
The Astros right-hander has missed Houston's previous meetings with Oakland. He does have history against former Angel Alberto Callaspo, who is 1-for-5 with two runs batted in and two walks. Josh Reddick is 0-for-2 with two strikeouts in his career against Lyles. Chris Young is locked in against the righty, 5-for-9 with a home run and five runs batted.