Houston-Oakland Preview

Astros head to Oakland for a showdown with 1st place A's

Astros head to Oakland for a showdown with 1st place A's
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

PROBABLE STARTERS

Fri. Aug 7: Zack Greinke (0-0, 5.00 ERA) vs. Chris Bassitt (1-0, 0.93)

Sat. Aug 8: Framber Valdez (0-1, 2.53) vs. Frankie Montas (1-1, 2.25)

Sun. Aug 9: Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.42) vs. Jesus Luzardo (0-0, 2.31)

STORYLINES

  • Who reigns supreme in the AL West? The Astros have been the clear and dominant power in the AL West for three seasons, with the Athletics being a consistent second fiddle. Well, 20% of the season is gone, and the A's have a 2.5 game lead on Houston. A bad series for Houston will give them quite a hole to dig out of.
  • Is George Springer okay? Springer left the game against the Diamondbacks on Thursday night with a wrist injury. Springer was starting to find himself at the plate, so it would be unfortunate if he misses time due to injury and has to find his timing again.
  • Who is Ryan Pressly? Ryan Pressly has only been used twice, only faced nine hitters, allowed five hits to those nine hitters, walked two others, and only recorded two outs. He was responsible for the loss on Thursday night, failing to record an out in his first save opportunity of the year. With Roberto Osuna on the shelf, the Astros need vintage Pressly, not this Pressly.
  • A new ace in town? Athletics phenom Jesus Luzardo made his starting pitching debut earlier this week, twirling five innings of scoreless baseball against the Texas Rangers. If Luzardo, the first Peruvian-born big leaguer in MLB history, is the pitcher that experts think he is, then Oakland might have the best pitching staff in baseball.

PREDICTIONS

The Athletics represent another formidable opponent for the Astros, as they return to divisional play. All three pitching matchups are even, as Greinke looks to build on his second start versus the reliable Chris Bassitt, Valdez looks to prove he's a long term rotation option versus the electric Frankie Montas, and two up-and-coming arms square off on Sunday. Ultimately, it will be up to which offense can wreak more havoc. Right now, that offense is Oakland. The A's will take two of three.

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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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