Oakland took game one of the series in surprising 2-0 fashion. Both starters were in control through the first six innings before being replaced. Gerrit Cole struck out 11 while Frankie Montas punched out just two, but neither allowed a run, and they both surrendered just three hits. It was the Astros bullpen that broke first, as Brad Peacock gave up a solo homer to Stephen Piscotty in the seventh inning. He would then pick up a second RBI in the eighth to pad the lead, while the A's bullpen held strong against a fierce lineup. So who will the second game of this three-game series? Let's start by looking at the pitching matchup.
Sean Manaea (RHP) Vs. Justin Verlander (RHP)
Manaea started the season in All-Star form, but a shaky May saw his ERA leap up to 3.60. It is on the way down now, but the days of shutouts and one-run starts have given way to two- and three-run performances. It's still good, but the brilliance has lessened. Manaea comes into this game off the back of a solid seven inning, one-run, start against the Padres, however he has combined for just three strikeouts in his last two starts.
Justin Verlander is being his usual brilliant self. He's carrying a 2.15 ERA through his 19 starts with a 0.84 WHIP and 11.0 K/9. Like Manaea his form has cooled off of late though. His final two starts in June against the Blue Jays and Rays were a combined 11.2 innings in which he allowed 16 hits, two homers, and nine earned runs.
|Athletics Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
|Astros Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
Who's hot, and who's not
Several regulars are in good form for the Athletics at the moment. Over the last two weeks Jed Lowrie (.341), Khris Davis (.333), Matt Chapman (.318), Mark Canha (.314), and Stephen Piscotty (.300) are all seeing the ball well. The power in the lineup is coming from Lowrie and Piscotty, who have combined for nine homers in the same time period. There are players not doing so well though. Jonathan Lucroy and Matt Olson are both hitting below .200.
Alex Bregman has been in All-Star form for the Astros of late. He has six homers and a .393 average in the last two weeks. He has been supported by Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick, Yuli Gurriel, and Jose Altuve who all have two homers in the same time span, and are all hitting .288 or above. George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez are struggling though. They are hitting .140 and .130 respectively over the last two weeks, with just one homer between them.
It is tough to pick any team to beat the Astros when Verlander is on the mound, but the Astros are just 11-8 when he pitches. Manaea is exactly the kind of opponent that can match Verlander out for out though, with his elite slider and careful pitch selection. Manaea's WHIP of 0.96 shows how good he is at limiting base runners, and for all the big bats in Houston's lineup that could haunt them today. I'll pick the Astros to level the series today, but don't be stunned if the A's are able to pull out another win.