Monday evening at RingCentral Coliseum, the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros will start a 5 video games in 4 days collection that would very effectively decide the AL West race. The 2 groups will play a doubleheader Tuesday to make up their Aug. 30 sport which was postponed after the A’s had a constructive COVID-19 take a look at.

Listed here are the AL West standings as of Monday morning (right here is our every 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 at the very least a 98 % likelihood to make the postseason. The query is which workforce will win the division and safe home-field benefit within the Wild Card Spherical, and which workforce will accept second place and probably should go on the highway to face a type of AL Central powerhouses?

“It is a key collection each time we play them because the season goes alongside,” A’s supervisor Bob Melvin advised reporters over the weekend, together with John Hickey of Sports activities Illustrated. “It is getting an increasing number of necessary, particularly since that is the final time we play them this yr.”

Listed here are the main points for this week’s five-game collection in Oakland. Video games might be streamed regionally on fuboTV (attempt at no cost).  

Mon., Sept. 7

9:10 p.m. ET

RHP Chris Bassitt (2-2, 3.72) vs. RHP Cristian Javier (4-1, 3.35)

NBC Sports activities California, AT&T SportsNet Southwest

Tues., Sept, 8

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

RHP Frankie Montas (2-3, 6.06) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (3-0, 2.91)

NBC Sports activities California, AT&T SportsNet Southwest  

Tues., Sept. 9

TBD (Sport 2)

LHP Mike Minor (0-5, 5.94) 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 ought to be famous, would be the house workforce for Sport 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. That is the make-up sport of the Aug. 30 postponement in Houston. The sport might be performed in Oakland, in fact, however the Astros will bat within the backside half of the inning.

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

1. The season collection has been fairly even

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

in OAKLAND

in HOUSTON

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

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

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

2. There may be lingering unhealthy 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 sport 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 decreased to 4 video games on attraction — whereas Cintron was hit with a large 20-game suspension, the longest ever given to a coach. Laureano alleged Cintron stated 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 stated.

Whereas I’d at all times wager in opposition to one other benches-clearing incident, it is clear there isn’t any love misplaced between these two golf equipment. It goes past the brawl final month too. Houston is on everybody’s unhealthy facet following the sign-stealing scandal, which got here to mild due to whistleblower and A’s righty Mike Fiers, who is just not scheduled to pitch this collection. 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 and so they’ve misplaced 4 of their final 5 video games general, so they don’t seem to be precisely flying excessive for the time being, 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 isn’t simply 4 straight losses both. They have been crushing losses. The Astros misplaced on an Eleventh-inning walk-off Friday evening and a seventh-inning walk-off in Sport 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. They then blew a two-run lead within the seventh inning of Sport 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader, and allowed 4 runs within the backside of the eighth inning of a tie sport 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 sport as a result of starter Lance McCullers Jr. exited with an damage 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 gained eight straight video games from Aug. 12-20 to enhance their report to 15-10. Since then, they’re 6-9 and have seen their AL West title possibilities dip right down to 23.5 %, in line with Sportsline, which is best than I’d’ve guessed.  

4. Who’s sizzling, who’s not?

It appears like he is been round eternally, however Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker continues to be solely 23, and he’s having fun with a breakout season. The No. 5 general choose 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 facet, 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 an excellent however not nice .282/.317/.436 batting line in 41 plate appearances over the past 14 days. The Astros want extra from Correa and Gurriel with Altuve, Alvarez, and Bregman sidelined.

Due to their current 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 workforce and averaged solely 3.88 runs per sport. Matt Olson has led the way in which 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 at the very least getting on base.

5. Each groups have key gamers out injured

Each workforce has misplaced necessary gamers to accidents on this uncommon season, it appears, and the Astros and Athletics aren’t 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 may be accomplished for the yr 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 may return quickly although.

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

As for the Athletics, they’re presently with out their All-Star left facet of the infield. Iron man Marcus Semien has been sidelined with a facet damage for over every week, however may take batting apply Monday and return to the sector quickly thereafter, according to MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos. Chapman, in the meantime, exited Sunday’s sport with a hip downside. He went for an MRI.

“It isn’t nice timing, interval, to lose a participant like that,” Melvin advised reporters following the sport, together with Gallegos, including the hip situation 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 facet, the A’s are with out promising teen A.J. Puk, who has been out all yr with a shoulder downside. Breakout righty Burch Smith is probably going accomplished 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 collection will lack a few of their largest stars.

Prediction

We will shut with a prediction, so be happy to bookmark this publish 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 necessary gamers and their pitching employees is each extraordinarily younger — 10 of the 15 pitchers on their energetic roster have lower than one yr of service time — and a bit overwhelmed for the time being. The A’s are dynamite at house (14-6 with a plus-17 run differential) and easily the higher workforce at this level. Commerce deadline addition Tommy La Stella is the hypothetical collection MVP with three multi-hit video games.

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