A’s left-hander Mike Minor gets introduced to the Houston-Oakland rivalry, but surely not to the Astros, when the American League West front-runners duel in a doubleheader Tuesday on the Athletics’ home field.
Oakland (24-14) opened up a 4 1/2-game lead over Houston (21-20) atop the division with a 6-0 win Monday night in the opener of a four-day, five-game series, handing the Astros a fifth consecutive defeat.
Tuesday’s doubleheader was necessitated when the A’s were prohibited from playing the series finale in Houston on Aug. 30 after a positive coronavirus test. As a result, the Astros will play as the home team in the opener of the twin bill.
Right-handers Zack Greinke (3-0, 2.91 ERA) of the Astros and Frankie Montas (2-3, 6.06) of the A’s are the scheduled starters in the first game of the doubleheader.
Astros manager Dusty Baker did not announce Monday who he would be sending out to oppose Minor (0-5, 5.94) in the nightcap.
The A’s acquired Minor at the trade deadline from Texas for two players to be named. He has made just one appearance for Oakland, on Friday against the San Diego Padres, when he allowed two runs in one inning of relief.
His seven outings for the Rangers this year had all been starts. He went 0-5 in those games with a 5.60 ERA.
Minor has faced the Astros 15 times in his career, including 12 times as a starter, producing a 3-4 record with a 4.54 ERA.
If the A’s need bullpen help in Minor’s team starting debut, Oakland manager Bob Melvin was happy to report that he has all hands on deck for the twin bill after having gotten seven shutout innings from Chris Bassitt in a 6-0 win over Houston.
“Going into a doubleheader, that’s about as good as you could ask as far as bullpen availability,” Melvin said of using two relievers just one inning apiece in the series opener. “We’re going to need everybody. That’s the way we’ve always operated here.”
One batter Minor might expect to see is Astros star third baseman Alex Bregman, who has been out since Aug. 19 with a hamstring injury.
Baker disclosed before Monday’s game that he expected to be able to activate Bregman for the doubleheader.
“We’ve been really monitoring him, and he’s been trying to get back on the field,” the longtime skipper said. “He knows how much we need him, but at the same time, we have to take care of him. We have a plan for him the next few days, so we’re going to activate that plan.”
Bregman has gone 7-for-25 (.280) with a double and two home runs against Minor in their career head-to-heads.
The Greinke-Montas matchup is a rematch of the second game of the clubs’ doubleheader in Houston on Aug. 29.
The Astros swept a pair that day, 4-2 and 6-3, with Greinke (three runs in five innings) getting the better of Montas (five runs in 3 1/3 innings).
Greinke has pitched brilliantly against the A’s in his career, going 9-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 20 meetings, including 16 starts. He’s 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 12 games (nine starts) in Oakland.
Montas has gone 3-3 with a 4.63 ERA in eight career games, including six starts, against the Astros.
–Field Level Media