Series Preview: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics, April 24-26, 2015
The Astros were one hit away from tying Wednesday's game with the Mariners and possibly sweeping Seattle. A series victory will suffice for the Astros even if their four-game win streak was snapped. Houston now faces another division foe in the Athletics, completing a 15-game stretch of AL West division opponents.
The Astros sit, two game ahead of the A's in the loss column, first place in the AL West. Jed Lowrie and Luke Gregerson make their first trip to O.Co stadium since joining (or rejoining) the Astros.
Houston Astros looks to build on their success in Seattle with Dallas Keuchel on the mound for game one.
Season series against Athletics
The Astros face the Athletics in their third series of the year, April 13-15. The A's took the first two games, and outscored the Astros 12-1 in those two games. Houston saved face in the final game of the series, winning 6-1 on Jackie Robinson Day. As a team the Astros batted .223 (21-94) in the series and were lead by Jose Altuve (6-13), Jed Lowrie (3-6), and Luis Valbuena (4-10). Collin McHugh was the only starter to make through five innings in the series, holding the A's to one run over 5.2 innings while striking out 11.
Game 1: LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-0, 0.90 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.33 ERA, 0.79 WHIP
Game 2: RHP Scott Feldman (1-2, 5.09 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) vs. RHP Kendall Graveman (1-1, 6.94 ERA, 1.97 WHIP)
Game 3: RHP Asher Wojciechowski (0-1, 6.00 ERA, 1.92 WHIP) vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-2, 4.24 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
The Astros couldn't have asked for better game one starter to set the tone. Dallas Keuchel has been lights out the season, allowing just two earned runs in his first 20 innings. In four starts against the A's in 2014, Keuchel had a 2.48 ERA. At O.co stadium, Keuchel allowed 2 earned runs over 6 2/3 innings in one start in 2014. Keuchel's magic will be needed against Houston-native and former Sugar Land Skeeters pitcher Scott Kazmir. Kazmir revival is alive and well in Oakland, allowing just three earned runs 20 1/3 innings this season. In his first start against Houston this season, Kazmir held the Astros to one run over six innings on April 13. Kazmir struck out and the one run came on a Jose Altuve solo home run. In four starts agaist Houston in 2014, Kazmir had a 2.30 ERA and struck out 26 in 27 1/3 innings.
Scott Feldman has the Astros poorest outing by starter this season in his last encounter with the A's. He allowed 7 earned runs over five innings on April 13. Feldman rebounded in his most recent outing, allowing just two runs over six innings to the Angels. In two starts in Oakland in 2014, the A's roughed Feldman for eight runs in 13.1 innings. In two of his three starts this season Kendall Graveman has been able to get out of the fourth inning. The one start we was able to qualify for the win was against Houston on April 14. Graveman held the scoreless through 5 1/3 innings for his first career major league win.
Asher Wojciechowski is pitching on borrowed time with Brett Oberholtzer's blister healing. Wojo will at least get one more shot to impress before being more than likely sent down for Obehockey. After a poor opening start, he rebounded with four strong relief innings against the Athletics. In his most recent start, he labored through four innings against the Mariners. Wojo gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks. After seven scoreless innings to open the season Drew Pomeranz has hit a wall. Pomeranz has given up eight earned runs in his last 10 innings pitched. That includes four runs over five innings in Houston on April 15.
Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie, and Jake Marisnick have lead the way for the Astros offense this past week - all three at batting over .300 with 14-plus at-bats. Luis Valbuena and Colby Rasmus have been bringing the lumber with 3 extra-base hits each. Valbuena also leads the team with 5 RBIs in their last five games. Evan Gattis and Chris Carter contiue struggle, they batting a combined 4-for-34 this past week.
Josh Reddick and Billy Butler are both batting over .400 in the A's past six games. Butler and Stephen Vogt are tied with team-leading 6 RBIs during that same stretch. Brett Lawrie is struggling, batting 4-for-23 with 10 strikeouts in his last six games.
The pitching match ups are rough for the Astros this go around. I suspect the Astros will take one of three from the Boys in green and gold. Four innings from one starter (Wojo) and five-plus runs allowed from another (Feldman) doesn't bode well for the Astros.