Manager: Bob Melvin (8th year)
Last 10 games: 5-5
Who to watch: 2B Jed Lowrie (.346/.399/.614 qurg 8 HR, 30 RBIs), LF Khris Davis (7 HR, 23 RBIs), 3B Matt Chapman (6 HR, 15 RBIs), SS Marcus Semien (13 RBIs), RHP Trevor Cahill (1-1, 3.00 ERA), RHP Blake Treinen (5 saves, 1.2( ERA)
Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (3-4 in 2017)
May 4: RHP Andrew Cashner (1-4) vs. RHP Daniel Mengden (2-3), 10:05 p.m., MASN2
May 5: RHP Kevin Gausman (2-2) vs. RHP Trevor Cahill (1-1), 9:05 p.m., MASN2
May 6: RHP Alex Cobb (0-3) vs. RHP Andrew Triggs (2-1), 4:05 p.m., MASN2
Inside the A’s:
The A’s have been hovering around .500 and keeping within striking distance in the American League West. So far this season, manager Bob Melvin’s crew is using a fairly potent offense to offset some pitching issues. All the run support in the world, however, means little if the guys on the mound can’t shut down the opposition. So far, that isn’t happening with any great regularity. And as long as that continues to be the norm, the A’s will be hard-pressed to do anything more than lurk in the shadows, ready to pounce if their pitching starts to come through. So far, Oakland has the fourth-best batting average (.256) in the majors, as well as the sixth-highest hits total (273), on-base percentage (.330) and slugging percentage (.434).
Veteran infielder Jed Lowrie, who is manning second base, is coming off a spectacular April that saw him slash .339/.397/.618 with eight home runs, and his 30 RBIs lead the American League. Slugging outfielder Khris Davis is doing nothing to remove his all-or-nothing reputation: He’s homered seven times and driven in 23 runs, but is batting only .223. The A’s were hoping first baseman Matt Olson would blossom into a power threat, but he’s hit only three home runs and driven in just 12 runs. Versatile Mark Canha has played first base and all three outfield positions this season, and since April 17 is on a 17-for-51 binge (.333) with four homers and 10 RBIs. Shortstop Marcus Semien has been remarkably consistent, recording hits in 25 of the A’s 31 games this season.
Righty Daniel Mengden, who starts Friday’s series opener, is a reverse-splits guy who holds left-handed batters to a .212 average, while right-handers hit him at a .338 clip. He’s worked five or more innings in five of his six starts, but is coming off an April 28 outing in which he lasted only 2 1/3 innings at Houston. He’s allowed only four walks and two homers in 32 2/3 innings this season, and holds the opposition to a .242/.265/.374 aslash line at home. Mengden has never faced the Orioles. Right-hander Trevor Cahill, Saturday’s starter, has had some success against the Birds, with a career 3-1 record and 2.42 ERA in four starts. He’s another reverse-splits pitcher, with a .111 average against left-handers and a .278 mark versus right-handers. Overall, opponents are slashing .206/.265/.349 off the veteran. Sunday starter Andrew Triggs was in spring training with the Orioles in 2016 before a waiver claim landed him in Oakland. He’s struggled at home, posting a 9.95 ERA this season with a .310/.412/.414 line against him. But the A’s are 4-2 in his six starts, during which he’s reached six innings once. Against the Orioles, he’s 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two games (one start) in his career.
When the A’s have a ninth-inning lead to protect, they call on right-hander Blake Treinen, who has five saves and recently returned from being struck on the leg by a line drive on April 24. Unlike many closers, Treinen isn’t a one-inning wonder; seven of his nine appearances have been for more than a single frame.