Manager: Bob Melvin (7th season)
Last 10 games: 5-5
Who to watch: 2B Jed Lowrie (.271 with 33 doubles, 110 hits), LF Khris Davis (.242 with 31 HR, 80 RBIs), DH Ryon Healy (.255 with 21 HR, 63 RBIs), LHP Sean Manaea (8-6, 4.15 ERA), RHP Santiago Casilla (2-5, 16 saves).
Season series vs. Orioles: 1st meeting (4-3 in 2016)
Aug. 10: LHP Wade Miley vs. RHP Chris Smith, 10:05 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 11: RHP Ubaldo Jiménez vs. RHP Paul Blackburn, 10:05 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 12: RHP Dylan Bundy vs. LHP Sean Manaea, 9:05 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 13: RHP Jeremy Hellickson vs. RHP Kendall Graveman, 4:05 p.m., MASN2
Inside the Athletics:
There was a considerable amount of debate as to whether the Orioles would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. For their next opponent, however, there really wasn’t any suspense.
Headed for a third straight last-place finish in the American League West, the Athletics turned into bonafide sellers in an effort to build for the future. The team’s top pitcher and one of its top hitters are gone, but there’s still plenty of talent left on the roster.
First baseman Yonder Alonso was enjoying a nice season in Oakland. In 100 games with the A’s, Alonso slugged 22 home runs to the tune of a .266 average. But he was traded to the Mariners earlier this week in exchange for outfielder prospect Boog Powell (not that one). His departure was a significant hit to an offense that was already one of the worst in baseball. And entering tonight’s series opener, the A’s are hitting just .239 as a team, tied for last in the AL and ahead of only the Padres. Despite their struggles, the team still has some bright spots, none brighter than slugger Khris Davis (that’s Khris, with a “K”). Davis leads the team in home runs (31) and RBIs (80) and is a tremendous power threat despite his 149 strikeouts. In fact, did you know Davis’ 72 home runs since the start of 2016 is the most in the majors? And while Davis provides the power, second baseman Jed Lowrie complements him with a .271 average and a team-leading 110 hits.
On the pitching side of things, right-hander Sonny Gray -- one of the most talked-about trade pieces heading into the deadline -- was shipped to the Yankees for a trio of prospects on July 31. In the meantime, Oakland must carry on with an assortment of young arms and journeymen. Before joining the A’s in 2016, Chris Smith last pitched in the majors in 2010. This is the 36-year-old’s first season in the starting rotation, where he’s pitched to a 4.82 ERA over five appearances. Smith is still searching for his first win of the year but has recorded three quality starts. Rookie Paul Blackburn is quietly putting together a solid season. He’s 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA and has tossed a shutout in three of his seven career starts. Oddly enough, Blackburn’s two worst starts of the year came at home, where he’s 1-0 but has a 3.93 ERA. On Saturday, Sean Manaea will aim for just his second win since July. This will be Manaea’s first career start against the Orioles, who are hitting .253 against left-handed starters. Kendall Graveman got off to a hot start this season, going 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts in April. Since then, however, the right-hander has been plagued by inconsistencies. He hasn’t won since April 8 and lasted just two innings in a start against the Giants during which he allowed seven earned runs.
Even Oakland’s bullpen wasn’t immune to the trade deadline, as relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle were traded to Washington on July 16. Santiago Casilla remains as the A’s closer, where he’s picked up 16 saves and amassed a 4.07 ERA. He’s joined by relievers Liam Hendriks, Ryan Dull and Daniel Coulombe.