SERIES PREVIEW

Astros-A's series breakdown: A lot is at stake late in the season

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Astros are heading North with their tails between their legs, suffering a four game sweep at the hands of the Angels. It was a particularly gut-wrenching series, with the bullpen factoring heavily in each loss. It doesn't seem fortunes will get any easier, as the 'Stros now have to square off in a five game series (yes, you read that right) with the AL West leading Oakland Athletics.

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Mon. Sept. 7 - HOU: Cristian Javier (4-1, 3.35) vs. OAK: Frankie Montas (2-3, 6.06)

Tues. Sept. 8 - HOU: Zack Greinke (3-0, 2.91) vs. OAK: Mike Minor (0-5, 5.94)

Tues. Sept. 8 - HOU: TBD vs. OAK: Chris Bassitt (2-2, 3.72)

Wed. Sept. 9 - HOU: Luis Garcia (0-0, 2.08) vs. OAK: Jesus Luzardo (2-2, 4.23)

Thurs. Sept. 10 - HOU: Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.91) vs. OAK: Sean Manaea (3-2, 5.09)

STORYLINES

  • AL West supremacy: The Astros trail the Athletics by five games in the loss column. A sweep would see the Astros regain the division lead. Getting swept would see the Astros staring down an insurmountable deficit. Obviously, both are unlikely to happen, but a lot is at stake late in the season.
  • Tattered Staff: The Astros young arms have been taxed. The returns of Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski, and Jose Urquidy are positive developments for their playoff run, but the three must be treated with kid gloves, especially considering the injury numbers across MLB this season. Those three still working their way back to full speed forced some undesirable arms into undesirable situations this past weekend against the Angels.
  • Trigger happy vs. frozen trigger: The A's made a couple of deadline acquisitions in former AL West foes Tommy La Stella and Mike Minor. La Stella will undoubtedly feature in the lineup, and Mike Minor is slated to toe the rubber in the front half of Tuesday's doubleheader. The Astros, on the other hand, stood pat, when many felt they could've used some bullpen help considering all of the young arms that have been thrust into tough roles. It's an interesting juxtaposition of two teams chasing the same goal.

PREDICTIONS

It's baseball, who knows, but the Astros come out hungry and take four of five, leaving the Bay Area with a 1/2 game lead in the AL West.

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