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Athletics vs Rays: Poised to Breach

The notoriously streaky A’s have pitched and hit their way into a sweep of the defending AL Champs as the team appears to be on the upswing yet again. The A’s weekend wasn’t filled with all of the usual unchecked bliss from winning that can still pervade even when rooting for a team destined for last place, as bigger news than a series sweep struck before the final game was played. Finding out that Ryan Madson, and longest-tenured Athletic and team/community leader Sean Doolittle, had been traded in exchange for a former A’s farmhand with potential for an amazing turnaround and a complete flameout, a nineteen year old southpaw that has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter and the potential to be an injury-decimated LOOGY, and a bad-bodied corner infielder who doesn’t appear to have a clear path to the team, even if his bat holds up better than expected, left any A’s fan with a gamut of emotions. From the sadness of the goodbye, the intrigue in the returns potential, the distance from the majors of the prospect-side of the return, the hope in a bullpen lead by Chris Bassitt, and so much more, the trade has wound up being one of the more difficult to ones to process and judge in recent memory. The A’s have admit the team is doing a rebuild, and the road ahead may get bumpy, but for now, the A’s are hot off a sweep and champing at the bit for more against the Tampa Bay Rays.

  • Houston: 62-30
  • Seattle: 46-47
  • Texas: 45-46
  • Anaheim: 46-49
  • Oakland: 42-50

There is still no team that can be bothered to climb above .500 other than the Astros in this division. The only real difference is that the Angels sputtered into the break and are now the new team for the A’s to set their sites on passing in the division, as the Angels hold a scintillating 2.5 game lead.

The Rays, a team built on depth, are arriving in Oakland having nearly swept the Angels and winners of seven of eleven games in the month of July. While just about every part of the roster has had prolonged stretches of sputtering, when the roster is all clicking at the same time it is highly formidable, and the roster isn’t far from clicking all at once. Their pitching, in particular, has been lights out, of late, and the Rays offense has proven just good enough to support it in the team’s long climb into the top Wild Card spot, and are just three games behind the first place Boston Red Sox. One of the few things holding the Rays back, however, is its bullpen, which all too often fails to finish the job that the starter started.

Last month, the Rays took three games in a four game series while playing at home against the A’s, but figure to be facing a very different team this time around, as the series occurred soon before Oakland began to radically and aggressively alter its roster. Since this series will also be played in Oakland, the entire energy surrounding the A’s ought to be night and day from the frantic and bad energy that plagued the roster for months to start the season.

Who’s Hot/Not

Home Run Derby snub Logan Morrison has continued his Yonder Alonso-esque Renaissance at home plate with no signs of slowing down, as the first baseman has a .936 OPS with twenty six home runs coming into this series. Fellow outfielders (and DH’s) Corey Dickerson and Stephen Souza Jr. are each OPS-ing nearly .900 themselves, and behind them is swath of high floor depth that has been doing just enough in support of the big boppers of the offense to carry the team to victory.

In a bit of unfortunate news, for the Rays, Colby Rasmus’ season is over as his recovery from a surgery did not go as hoped. He now looks to return fully healthy next season.

The Matchups

Monday, July 17th at 7:05 – Daniel Gossett versus Jake Odorizzi

Tuesday, July 18th at 7:05 – Chris Smith versus Blake Snell

Wednesday, July 19th at 12:35 – Sonny Gray versus Jacob Faria

How the A’s Win the Series

With the added looming notion that Sonny Gray could very well be gone by Wednesday, the A’s aren’t throwing their best arms out there for this series. Daniel Gossett could become a good back-end starter if he’s able to limit the meatballs and the longballs, and ideally with each home run he’s surrendered early in his career he’s been able to identify and learn from what caused his mistake, but that doesn’t mean anything until he actually starts to get tangible results. Chris Smith had a nice first major league start, and ultimately kept his team in the game, but it should never be a name that a fan wants their team to depend upon.

The A’s are running into struggling starter Jake Odorizzi, who continues to show flashes of brilliance in between large swaths of terrible control and mechanical issues, and then two rookies who have generally succeeded in their first experience in the show but are relative unknowns to the A’s. This could very well wind up being the type of series where an offense catches fire and burns away the competition.

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