Monday night time at RingCentral Coliseum, the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros will start a 5 video games in 4 days sequence that might very nicely decide the AL West race. The 2 groups will play a doubleheader Tuesday to make up their Aug. 30 recreation which was postponed after the A’s had a optimistic COVID-19 check.

Listed here are the AL West standings as of Monday morning (right here is our each day postseason outlook):  

  1. Athletics: 23-14
  2. Astros: 21-19 (3 1/2 GB)
  3. Mariners: 18-22 (6 1/2 GB)
  4. Angels: 17-25 (8 1/2 GB)
  5. Rangers: 13-26 (11 GB)

The A’s and Astros are near postseason locks, in line with Sportsline, which supplies each groups a minimum of a 98 % likelihood to make the postseason. The query is which group will win the division and safe home-field benefit within the Wild Card Spherical, and which group will accept second place and presumably must go on the street to face a kind of AL Central powerhouses?

“It is a key sequence each time we play them because the season goes alongside,” A’s supervisor Bob Melvin informed reporters over the weekend, together with John Hickey of Sports activities Illustrated. “It is getting increasingly essential, particularly since that is the final time we play them this 12 months.”

Listed here are the small print for this week’s five-game sequence in Oakland. Video games will be streamed regionally on fuboTV (attempt free of charge).  

Mon., Sept. 7

9:10 p.m. ET

RHP Frankie Montas (2-3, 6.06) vs. RHP Cristian Javier (4-1, 3.35)

NBC Sports activities California, AT&T SportsNet Southwest

Tues., Sept, 8

6:20 p.m. ET (Recreation 1)

LHP Mike Minor (0-5, 5.94) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (3-0, 2.91)

NBC Sports activities California, AT&T SportsNet Southwest  

Tues., Sept. 9

TBD (Recreation 2)

RHP Chris Bassitt (2-2, 3.72) vs. TBA

NBC Sports activities California, AT&T SportsNet Southwest  

Weds., Sept. 10

9:10 p.m. ET

LHP Jesus Luzardo (2-2, 4.23) vs. RHP Luis Garcia (0-0, 2.08)

NBC Sports activities California, AT&T SportsNet Southwest  

Thurs., Sept. 11

3:40 p.m. ET

LHP Sean Manaea (3-2, 5.09) vs. RHP Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.91)

NBC Sports activities California, AT&T SportsNet Southwest  

The Astros, it must be famous, would be the dwelling group for Recreation 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. That is the make-up recreation of the Aug. 30 postponement in Houston. The sport shall be performed in Oakland, in fact, however the Astros will bat within the backside half of the inning.

Listed here are 5 issues to learn about this week’s five-game sequence in Oakland, with a prediction thrown in on the finish for good measure.

1. The season sequence has been fairly even

As famous by Melvin earlier, this would be the remaining sequence of the common season between these two AL West rivals. The season sequence thus far has been fairly even. This is a recap:

in OAKLAND

in HOUSTON

  • Aug. 29 (Recreation 1): HOU 4, OAK 2 in 7 innings (field rating)
  • Aug. 29 (Recreation 2): HOU 6, OAK 3 in 7 innings (field rating)

The scheduled Aug. 28 sequence opener at Minute Maid Park between these two groups was postponed to protest racial injustice. The scheduled Aug. 30 finale of that sequence was postponed after the A’s had a optimistic COVID-19 check.

The Athletics maintain a 3-2 season sequence lead and have outscored the Astros 18-15 of their 5 video games thus far. That Aug. 7 recreation was primarily a coin flip recreation, so yeah, the season sequence has been even. Every group is undefeated in its dwelling ballpark, which would appear to bode nicely for Oakland this week, although what occurred final month would not actually matter now.

2. There’s lingering dangerous blood

These two golf equipment don’t like one another, that has been evident for a couple of years now, however issues escalated on Aug. 9, when the benches cleared in Oakland. A’s middle fielder Ramon Laureano was upset after being hit by a pitch for the second time within the recreation and exchanged phrases with Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, then charged the dugout.

This is the video:

Laureano was suspended six video games for his position within the brawl — it was later lowered to 4 video games on enchantment — whereas Cintron was hit with an enormous 20-game suspension, the longest ever given to a coach. Laureano alleged Cintron mentioned one thing about his mom, which prompted him to cost the dugout.

“I remorse charging him as a result of he is a loser,” Laureano later mentioned.

Whereas I might at all times guess in opposition to one other benches-clearing incident, it is clear there is no such thing as a love misplaced between these two golf equipment. It goes past the brawl final month too. Houston is on everybody’s dangerous aspect following the sign-stealing scandal, which got here to gentle because of whistleblower and A’s righty Mike Fiers, who isn’t scheduled to pitch this sequence. The Astros have a goal on their again, for certain.

3. The Astros are reeling

The A’s dropped two of three to the Padres over the weekend they usually’ve misplaced 4 of their final 5 video games total, so they don’t seem to be precisely flying excessive in the meanwhile, however they don’t seem to be as downtrodden because the Astros, who’ve misplaced 4 straight and allowed 32 runs in these 4 video games, all in opposition to the Angels.

It is not simply 4 straight losses both. They had been crushing losses. The Astros misplaced on an Eleventh-inning walk-off Friday night time and a seventh-inning walk-off in Recreation 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. They then blew a two-run lead within the seventh inning of Recreation 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader, and allowed 4 runs within the backside of the eighth inning of a tie recreation Sunday. Ouch.

Houston actually taxed its pitching employees this weekend too. They wanted 10 1/3 innings from their bullpen in Friday’s extra-innings recreation as a result of starter Lance McCullers Jr. exited with an harm earlier than recording an out, then they performed the doubleheader Saturday. Lefty Framber Valdez wore it Sunday, throwing 108 pitches in seven innings whereas permitting eight runs.

The Astros received eight straight video games from Aug. 12-20 to enhance their file to 15-10. Since then, they’re 6-9 and have seen their AL West title probabilities dip all the way down to 23.5 %, in line with Sportsline, which is healthier than I might’ve guessed.  

4. Who’s scorching, who’s not?

It looks like he is been round without end, however Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker continues to be solely 23, and he’s having fun with a breakout season. The No. 5 total decide within the 2015 draft is hitting .284/.338/.596 this season, and he is been off the charts good these final two weeks. Tucker and fellow outfielders Michael Brantley and George Springer have carried the load offensively.

Listed here are their final two weeks:

Michael Brantley

44

.350/.409/.625

2

11

George Springer

44

.289/.372/.632

3

5

Kyle Tucker

46

.390/.457/.854

4

17

On the flip aspect, first baseman Yuli Gurriel has struggled a bit these final two weeks, hitting an empty .268/.279/.390 in 43 plate appearances. Carlos Correa owns a very good however not nice .282/.317/.436 batting line in 41 plate appearances during the last 14 days. The Astros want extra from Correa and Gurriel with Altuve, Alvarez, and Bregman sidelined.

Due to their latest COVID-19 shutdown, the Athletics have performed solely eight video games the final 14 days, and in these eight video games they’ve hit .224/.314/.360 as a group and averaged solely 3.88 runs per recreation. Matt Olson has led the best way with a .296/.406/.481 line in 31 plate appearances these final two weeks. Mark Canha (.167/.375/.208) and the now-injured Matt Chapman (.120/.185/.240) have held the offense again in these eight video games, although Canha is a minimum of getting on base.

5. Each groups have key gamers out injured

Each group has misplaced essential gamers to accidents on this uncommon season, it appears, and the Astros and Athletics are not any exception. McCullers exited Friday’s begin with nerve irritation in his neck, and he was positioned on the injured record Sunday. That additional thins out an Astros pitching employees already decimated by accidents:

Osuna and Verlander could be finished for the 12 months and there’s no agency timetable for James to return. On prime of that, the Astros are additionally with out Jose Altuve (knee sprain), Yordan Alvarez (knee surgical procedure), and Alex Bregman (hamstring pressure). Alvarez is completed for the season and Altuve was simply positioned on the injured record this previous weekend. Bregman might return quickly although.

“I am prepared and I am excited,” Bregman informed reporters late final week, together with MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. “… Every little thing’s been going extraordinarily nicely. I’ve run as much as 100 %, taken swings, taken floor balls and really feel good throughout all of it. Simply attempting to hearken to our coaching employees’s recommendation, however I really feel good, really feel robust. Particularly in that hamstring, I really feel actually, actually good.”

As for the Athletics, they’re presently with out their All-Star left aspect of the infield. Iron man Marcus Semien has been sidelined with a aspect harm for over every week, however might take batting follow Monday and return to the sphere quickly thereafter, according to MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos. Chapman, in the meantime, exited Sunday’s recreation with a hip drawback. He went for an MRI.

“It is not nice timing, interval, to lose a participant like that,” Melvin informed reporters following the sport, together with Gallegos, including the hip problem is one thing Chapman has handled on and off this season.  “We have really been fairly lucky with few accidents. To lose a man like Chappy would harm if it was an prolonged interval.”

On the pitching aspect, the A’s are with out promising teenager A.J. Puk, who has been out all 12 months with a shoulder drawback. Breakout righty Burch Smith is probably going finished for the season with a forearm pressure and swingman Daniel Mengden is on the COVID-19 injured record. There is no such thing as a timetable for his return. Nearly as good because the Astros and Athletics are, this five-game sequence will lack a few of their greatest stars.

Prediction

We will shut with a prediction, so be happy to bookmark this put up and use it to mock me in 5 days. The official CBS Sports activities prediction: Athletics win 4 of 5 and put the AL West race on ice. The Astros are with out too many essential gamers and their pitching employees is each extraordinarily younger — 10 of the 15 pitchers on their energetic roster have lower than one 12 months of service time — and a bit overwhelmed in the meanwhile. The A’s are dynamite at dwelling (14-6 with a plus-17 run differential) and easily the higher group at this level. Commerce deadline addition Tommy La Stella is the hypothetical sequence MVP with three multi-hit video games.

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