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We Meet Again: A’s vs Astros ALDS Preview

(Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Oakland begins a five-game series against the rival Houston Astros on Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium

If one thing is clear for Monday’s series opener of the American League Division Series between the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros, it’s this:

These two franchises do not like each-other.

Back on August 9th, these two division-rivals took part in a benches-clearing brawl that cemented a fresh, new rivalry in Major League Baseball. Athletics center-fielder Ramón Laureano charged at the Astros dugout after being provoked by Houston bench-coach Alex Cintrón, prompting suspensions and fines for both sides.

“I regret charging him because he’s a loser. [A suspension] is understandable, but I hope it’s not that many games. At the end of the day, I’m here to win a World Series with the Oakland Athletics—this wonderful group of guys. I don’t want to be a distraction. Obviously, I am right now. Hey, I’ve already moved on.”

Laureano on August 10, 2020

Since that contest on August 9th, the Athletics have claimed the American League West Division for the first time since the 2013 season, while the Astros finished 29-31–the worst record of all 16 teams that qualified for the postseason.

Oakland finished the 2020 season with a 7-3 record against the Astros, their best record against any of their division foes.

Houston, who swept the American League Central champion Minnesota Twins in two-games, will travel to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to face an A’s team that finished 36-24.

A’s right-hander and unofficial ace Chris Bassitt will take the mound on Monday after delivering a seven-innings, one-run, five-strikeout performance on Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.

During is 2020 campaign, Bassitt went 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA and 55 strikeouts for the A’s.

For Houston, 27 year-old Lance McCullers Jr. will start in Game 1 against a hungry Athletics offense.

In lone-start against Oakland this season, McCullers went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA and seven strikeouts over six-innings in a 4-2 Astros win on August 29th.

After defeating a powerful Chicago White Sox offense last week, the Oakland pitching staff has to feel a sort of confidence heading into a longer series with Houston.

While the Astros lineup has plenty of fire-power, the A’s have arms lined up in the rotation and bullpen that are ready to regulate Houston’s offensive threats.

Lefty starter Sean Manaea will get the start in Game 2 on Tuesday for the A’s. Manaea, who has struggled in 2020, holds a 3-5 record with a 3.27 ERA and 62 strikeouts over 13 starts against the Astros over his four-year career.

The A’s offense will need to take advantage of an Astros team that looks a lot different that the past few years:

  • Former MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander will be out for the next 12-14 months after having Tommy John surgery.
  • Last year’s Cy Young Award runner-up Gerrit Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA, 326 SO) departed in free-agency for a mega-deal with the New York Yankees.
  • All-Star closer Roberto Osuna will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn UCL,

Houston is without the dominant starting-rotation that seemed to mow down team after team over the past three years.

Oakland has the bats, with Tommy La Stella, Marcus Semien, Khris Davis, Matt Olson and Ramón Laureano providing plenty of threatening options in the Athletics’ order.

The best-of-five game series will take place at the neutral site of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, a place that Oakland is 8-14 since the 1970’s.

All five games will be matinee’s, with the schedule appearing as follows:

Former A’s outfielder Josh Reddick told reporters that he’s relived to be playing in the neutral site of Los Angeles, as Oakland is a scary team when in the confines of the Coliseum.

“Getting those guys out of that comfort level increases our chance at success,” Reddick said Saturday. “Getting to a neutral site is huge for us. We may not look back at it, but you could always have that feeling that, you know, at least we’re not at the Coliseum anymore.”

Astros outfielder Josh Reddick to MSN Sports

Including the American League Wild Card Series win over Chicago, the A’s are 24-11 at the Coliseum in 2020.

Heading to a neutral site could provide the Astros with a boost, but the A’s hold the cards in this Division Series showdown. Oakland will be the “home” team in three of the five games, while Houston will be the “home” team in Game 3 and Game 4.

If the series is tied at 2-2 come Friday afternoon, the Athletics will get “home” field advantage in a winner-take-all Game 5.

Be sure to tune in for all of your American League Division Series action right here on Sports 1140 KHTK, with Game 1 beginning at 1:07 pm PST.

Get ready for some fireworks.

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