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Series Preview: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics, July 18-20, 2016

Can the Astros pull even closer to the division lead with three games against Oakland?

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Houston Astros (50-42) vs. Oakland Athletics (40-52), July 18-20, 2016

The Houston Astros picked up right where they left after the All-Star break, taking two of three against the Mariners. The Astros are now 4 1/2 games back of the Texas Rangers in the American League West standings. Houston now looks to gain more ground as the team faces the down-trotting Oakland Athletics for three games in Oakland.

The Astros will hopefully not be taking the A's lightly as the "green collar" boys have always played hard under manager Bob Melvin -- 2016 has been no exception. Oakland could have easily swept a four-game series with the Astros before the All-Star break if not for two walk-off wins by Houston.

On top of that, the A's took two of three from the Blue Jays to start the second half. Here is a closer look at this week's games:

Starting pitching

Monday: RHP Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.35 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) vs. RHP Kendall Graveman (5-6, 4.37 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)
Tuesday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (6-9, 4.80 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) Vs. TBA
Wedesday: RHP Doug Fister (9-6, 3.64 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) vs. RHP Daniel Mengden (1-4, 5.54 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)

Mike Fiers gets his first start since July 6 on Monday. He is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts in July. In his most recent start, he pitched only 3 1/3 inning and allowed four runs on five hits to the Mariners. He was 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA during five starts in June. Fiers is making his second start of 2016 in Oakland, he held the A's to two runs on seven hits over seven innings on April 29. Current A's are batting .230 (14x61) against Fiers with a .214 BABIP, 6.42 FIP, 21.5 K%, and a 6.2 BB%.

Kendall Graveman is making his second straight against the Astros -- he held Houston to two runs on eight hits over eight on July 9. Graveman has posted quality starts in four of his last five starts. Current Astros are batting .278 (22x79) against Graveman with a .282 BABIP, 4.62 FIP, 8.1 K%, and a 5.8 BB%.

Dallas Keuchel will be looking for his sixth straight quality start in game two. He is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two July starts. He held the A's to one run on four hits over seven innings in his last start on July 10.

Doug Fister has come back down to earth a bit, he is 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in his last seven games. He held Oakland to two runs on three hits over eight innings on July 7.

Former Astros prospect Daniel Mengden makes his second start against Houston on Wednesday. He allowed six runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings on July 8 in Houston.


(Small sample size alert)

Stephen Vogt has continued to swing a hot bat, he is batting .571 (4x7) with a home run and three RBIs since the All-Star break. Kris Davis has three home runs and five RBIs in his last three games. Yonder Alonso is batting .429 (3x7) with a double and two RBIs.

Jose Altuve continued to be the Astros MVP, batting .500 (6x12) with a double and home run over the first three games back from the break. Marwin Gonzalez continues to hit his way into the lineup, he is 5-for13 with a home run in the same time frame.


Astros take two of three against the scrappy A's.


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