We know we are in the dog days of summer when the biggest story of last night’s game was where Yoenis Cespedes wants to finish his playing career (spoiler alert: It’s back with the Green & Gold!).
But even in the midst of a long and frustrating season, there is plenty to be intrigued about as the A’s play the Mets tonight in New York. Here are tonight’s starting line-ups (No red-hot Rajai Davis or banged up Ryan Healy tonight) and 5 storylines to keep you interested in Game #97:
1. Tonight’s starting pitcher for the Mets has been really bad over the last 2 months
Tonight’s Met’s starting pitcher is Right-hander Zach Wheeler…Wheeler, a former 1st round pick of the Giants, is still on the road to recovery from his 2015 Tommy John surgery and comes into tonight’s start 0-5 with a 6.39 ERA (27 earned runs/38.0 innings pitched) over his last eight starts. Translation: Wheeler has been really bad lately.
Oakland’s offense has a golden opportunity tonight to score some runs, early and often.
Will the A’s 29th ranked offense be able to take advantage of Wheeler’s struggles?
2. A’s Starting Pitcher, Sean Manaea, has been really good over the last 2 months
Manaea is 7-2 with a 2.92 ERA over his last 11 starts dating back to May 20…the wins are tied for the most in the American League over that span and his ERA ranks fifth.
I believe Manaea’s breakout season will be one of the lasting memories we take from the 2017 season and going forward he could be officially declared the team’s ace and #1 starter. On top of watching Manaea’s breakout season continue tonight, we also have the intrigue of seeing if he can come up with his first major league hit…He doesn’t have an at-bat this season and last season he went 0 for 2 with a strikeout in his only plate appearances. Over the past 8 seasons of interleague play, Oakland’s pitchers have gotten a total of 8 hits, averaging one hit per season! Hoping tonight the total increases to two, as Manaea gets a knock.
3. Awkward timing award goes to the Met’s promotion department
Tonight is “Noah Syndergaard as Thor” Bobblehead Night at Citi Field. Poor Mets fans have watched pitcher after pitcher go down with injury (sound familar A’s Nation?!). Syndergaard has been out since April 30th with a torn right lat muscle and only recently has begun to throw again. Nevertheless, the Met’s marketing team has decided to move forward with Syndergaard Bobblehead Night tonight. No truth to the rumor the bobblehead comes without a right arm (ba-da-boom…I am here all week)…Makes me appreciate the A’s promo team and the creative (and timely) promotions they come up with for OCo….For example, you can never go wrong with a G-Eazy Bobblehead Giveaway.
4. If you aren’t actively rooting for Adam Rosales, you should be
In addition to having the fastest and most unique homerun trot in baseball, Rosales is hosting free sandlot baseball games for kids in several of the cities the A’s are visiting this season. Today he showed up at Hinton Park in Flushing, Meadows to play with a group of kids.
Sights and sounds from Hinton Park Baseball Fields in Flushing, NY. pic.twitter.com/JiUI5lNnkv
In a season where we have seen several great personalities leave our beloved team (i.e. Sean Doolittle and Stephen Vogt) and several former players absolutely rake against us (see Josh Reddick), Rosales is a guy to get behind. Rosales isn’t in tonight’s starting line-up but in this interleague game, he should see some action later in the game. Speaking of that…
5. The A’s bench matters tonight
One of the bright spots about interleague play is the chance to see Bob Melvin tap into his old National League roots and strategically use pitch hitters in later innings when the pitcher spot comes up. The A’s have used a pitch hitter 59 times so far in 2017 and have come up with 11 hits (.186 average, 1 HR, 7 RBI’s), pretty poor numbers. Last night the A’s were 1 for 3 pitch hitting (Jed Lowrie singled and knocked in a run hitting for relief pitcher, Frankie Montas).
Look for Rajai Davis, Matt Olson and Ryon Healy to get opportuities to deliver a key hit late in the game tonight.
Are you a fan of interleague play? Do you enjoy the strategy? Do you like watching A’s pitchers take their hacks a couple of times each season?