Opposite dugout: After selling at last month's deadline, Oakland focused on future

Manager: Bob Melvin (7th year)

Oakland-Athletics-LogoRecord: 54-70

Last 10 games: 4-6

Who to watch: LF Khris Davis (33 HR, 86 RBIs), CF Rajai Davis (.236, 26 stolen bases), 2B Jed Lowrie (.271/.346/.435), RHP Paul Blackburn (3.46 ERA), RHP Blake Trienen (2.65 ERA, 3 saves)

Season series vs. Orioles: 2-2

Pitching probables:

Aug. 21: RHP Chris Smith vs. LHP Wade Miley, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 22: RHP Paul Blackburn vs. RHP Ubaldo Jiménez, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 23: LHP Sean Manaea vs. RHP Dylan Bundy, 3:05 p.m., MASN

Inside the Athletics:

In 2014, the Athletics went all in to contend. They traded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for pitcher Jon Lester and sent a young infield prospect named Addison Russell to the Cubs for another pitcher, Jeff Samardzija. The A's made the playoffs, but lost in the American League wild card game to the Royals. Lester and Samardzija left Oakland in the offseason and the A's found themselves down a highly regarded shortstop and an outfielder with a cannon for a gun who was coming off a season with 22 homers and 36 doubles. That offseason, the A's offloaded third baseman Josh Donaldson for four players. The losses of Cespedes, Donaldson, Lester, Russell and Samaradzija have helped explain the current three-year stretch for Oakland where they have not come particularly close to a return to the postseason.

Oakland's best hitter in 2017 is no longer on their roster. They traded Yonder Alonso to Seattle on Aug. 6 for prospect Boog Powell. Alonso was in the midst of a breakout season before his change of scenery, slugging .527 and being Oakland's representive at this year's All-Star Game. Now that Alonso has moved north, Oakland's offense is led by Khris Davis. Davis is one of five AL hitters to strike out in over 30 percent of his plate appearances. However, he is tied for fourth in the AL for homers, so when he puts the ball in play, he makes sure it counts. Looking at who has been hot at the plate for Oakland, Matt Olson is the best answer. Olson has four home runs in his last eight games, good for a .750 slugging percentage over that stretch. Joining Olson as an Athletic enjoying a hot stretch is Ryon Healy. He is batting .364 over his past 11 games, with four doubles and homer. When outfielder Rajai Davis gets on base, there's a good chance he will be looking to steal. Davis is third in the AL for steals, but his .297 on-base percentage means he does not get that many chances to flash his wheels.

Monday's starter, Chris Smith, was drafted in 2002, but made his first big league start earlier this season. The 36-year-old Smith has had a rough August and his ERA sits at 7.04. Allowing five home runs in 15 1/3 innings has not done much for keeping his ERA down this month. Tuesday's starter, Paul Blackburn, is 13 years younger than Smith and in the midst of his rookie season. Blackburn's season ERA is a very solid 3.46, but it sits at a less diserable 4.41 for his three starts in August. On Wednesday, Sean Manaea will be looking to redeem himself for his prior start against the Orioles: He failed to make it out of the first inning, getting tattooed for six hits and six runs. Manaea was able to rebound from his shellacking in his most recent start, lasting six innings and allowing just three earned runs against the first-place Astros.

The A's offloaded two of their top relievers earlier this season in a trade with the Nationals, so their bullpen is not at the same strength it was to begin the season. Blake Treinen, who was acquired in the trade with Washington, has emerged as Oakland's new closer. He is only 3-for-6 on saves since joining Oakland, so a ninth-inning rally for the O's in this upcoming series would not be a huge surprise. Oakland's bullpen has a 4.55 ERA this month, ranking 11th in the AL.

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