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Series Preview: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics, September 7-9, 2015

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Astros begin 10-game road trip in the American League West in Oakland.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics, September 7-9, 2015

The season is reaching isn't inevitable end and the Astros are in the thick of a playoff race. Something they haven't even sniffed since probably 2008.  But the Astros haven't been a realistic playoff contender since 2005, the last year they reached the playoffs.

Since 2005, the Astros slowly slipped into a dumpster fire that Jeff Luhnow has slowly pulled them out of. Houston must now take the bull by the horns in this final stretch. Minus April, Houston has been a .500 baseball team and has a losing record on the road this season 27-38. With the Rangers nipping the Astros heals, the road trend will need to end.

Houston faces Oakland for their first three this road trip, the A's are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Athletics come into Monday's game with a five game losing streak, having been swept by the Mariners and outscored 22-13 during the series.

The Astros are 7-6 against the A's in 2015, losing the final three games of a four-game set the last time they met -- capped off by a blown save by former A's pitcher Luke Gregerson.

Pitchers

Monday: RHP Mike Fiers (7-9, 3.54 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) vs. LHP Felix Doubront (2-1, 3.99 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)
Tuesday: LHP Scott Kazmir (7-9, 2.50 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (12-7, 2.36 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) 
Wednesday: RHP Collin McHugh (15-7, 3.75 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) vs. RHP Aaron Brooks (1-2, 6.91 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)

Mike Fiers continues to be the bright spot in the Carlos Gomez (Gomez will come around). Fiers had a solid start in his first outing since his no-hitter, allowing one run over six inning against the Twins. Fiers is 5-2 with a 2.51 ERA in starts where he has 6-or-more days of rest between starts. The Blue Jays designated Felix Doubront for assignment earlier this season, before joining the A's. Doubront has been solid for the A's, posting a 3.28 ERA in five appearances (24.2 IP) in August.  He allowed four runs in six inning against the Angels in his last start.

It's a battle of former teammates in game two as Scott Kazmir squares off against Sonny Gray. Kazmir has struggle of late with a 1-4 record and a 3.24 ERA in his last seven starts. He only went 4 1/3 in his last outing, giving up two earned runs on seven hits. Gray has stumbled lately, giving up 11 runs over his last three starts. His most recent outing he gave up six runs over five inning against the Angels on Sept. 1.

Collin McHugh picked up his 15th win of the season on Friday, pitching 7 2/3 scoreless inning against the Twins. He has allowed just four earned runs over his last 28 innings. Aaron Brooks returned from Triple A Sacramento on Aug. 29, allowing just two runs against the Mariners.

Batting

Jed Lowrie has been hot this past week, batting .455 (10x22) with seven extra-base hits and seven RBIs. Jose Altuve continues to do his thing, batting .333 (9x27) with two doubles and two RBIs. Carlos Gomez is coming around, batting .300 (6x20) with two doubles and two RBIs.

Billy Butler is knocking the cover off the ball, batting .500 (10x20) with four extra-base hits and three RBIs. Rookie Marcus Semien is batting .350 (7x24) with a triple and three RBIs. Brett Lawrie has five extra base hits his last 24 at-bats.

Prediction

Houston win two of three, and are unable to solve Sonny Gray.

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