Game Preview - Athletics v Astros
|5:10 PM PT6:10 PM MT7:10 PM CT8:10 PM ET20:10 ET0:10 GMT8:10 5:10 PM MST7:10 PM EST7:40 PM VEN4:10 UAE (+1)7:10 PM CT, July 10, 2018
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas Attendance: 34,585
Astros host A's in the midst of two four-game series
Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
- Oakland took two of three from Cleveland, and have an MLB-best 16-4 record since June 16. At 50-40 this season, the Athletics are 10 games over .500 for the first time since they ended the 2014 season with a record of 88-74.
- The Astros enter this series winners of six in a row. Houston pitching has a 1.05 WHIP this season, which is on pace to be the lowest by any team since the 1909 Chicago Cubs finished the season with a 1.04 WHIP.
- The Astros have beaten Oakland eight of nine times so far this season, outscoring the A's 70-28. As a team, Houston has averaged 7.78 runs per game, while slashing .325/.389/.574 with 18 home runs and 23 doubles in those games.
- Gerrit Cole ranks third in MLB with 158 strikeouts, and is nine strikeouts away from tying Mike Scott's franchise record of 167 strikeouts before the All-Star break in 1986. In three starts against Oakland this season, Cole has a 3.86 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.
- In three appearances (one start) against the Astros, Frankie Montas has allowed 12 runs (10 earned) in 7.1 innings for a 12.27 ERA. In three road starts this year, Montas has a 3.57 ERA, and the A's have combined to score 37 runs.
- Over his past 21 games, Jed Lowrie is slashing .338/.411/.688 with seven home runs and 21 RBI. Lowrie has a .621 slugging percentage on the road this season, trailing only Mike Trout (.686) and Mookie Betts (.626) among qualified American League players.
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HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros opened their second consecutive four-game series on Monday night, marking the only time this season they will face four-game series in succession.
The series against the Oakland Athletics marks the ninth of 12 four-game sets for Houston (61-32) this season. Adding one game to extend a three-game set doesn't necessarily influence strategy, but it does present managers additional thoughts to consider regarding in-game matchups.
"I think you pay attention the second time you ask a reliever to go through the same part of the order," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "As an example, when Joe Smith comes in to face one of these right-handed hitters I have to pay attention because he can get three or four at-bats against the same guy in four games.
"I know it's only one more game, but the chances of you facing the same pocket of a lineup as a reliever is much higher in a four-game series."
The Astros had their six-game home winning streak snapped with a 2-0 loss to the A's. The shutout loss was their sixth of the season, each at Minute Maid Park.
Right-hander Justin Verlander (9-4, 2.15 ERA) will make his penultimate start on Tuesday before the All-Star Game break. He allowed three runs and five hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings of a 7-3 win over Oakland on June 14.
Verlander is 11-6 with a 2.68 ERA in 18 career starts against the Athletics. He was named to his seventh All-Star team on Sunday.
Left-hander Sean Manaea (8-6, 3.33 ERA) will start for Oakland. He is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in six starts since the beginning of June after opening the season 4-2 with a 1.03 ERA in his first six starts.
Manaea is 2-4 with a 2.54 ERA in 10 career starts against the Astros, against whom he made his big-league debut on April 29, 2016. He is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts against Houston this season.
Left fielder Mark Canha made his 13th start batting second in the lineup on Monday, and while he finished 0-for-4 with a strikeout, Canha hit the ball hard twice against Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole.
With Matt Joyce, who has batted second 16 times, on the 10-day disabled list with a lumbar strain, Canha has become a two-hole fixture and has enabled Oakland (51-40) to reconfigure its lineup and bump shortstop Marcus Semien into the eighth spot, where he can inject speed.
"A couple years ago, that's where he hit for a good portion of the year," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said of Canha. "Now he's getting to see a lot of right-handed pitching and he's having success against it. With Joyce out, he's gotten the starts and he's done a great job with it.
"It allows us to get a little speed at the bottom with Marcus too and lengthens our lineup some. As of right now, he's going to get a good portion of these games."
Updated July 10, 2018