Two teams that could wind up being trade partners get together one final time before the deadline when the resurgent Oakland Athletics host the Houston Astros on Wednesday afternoon.
Several A’s have seen their values increase as the team has come out of the All-Star break with five wins in seven games.
If the American League West-leading Astros needed any convincing that players from the last-place A’s could help them, they’ve seen Oakland win three straight against them in the past 10 days, including two in a row to begin the current three-game series.
Infielder/outfielder Tony Kemp has scorched his former team with two doubles and a home run in 7-5 and 5-3 wins the past two nights, while versatile Chad Pinder bombed a grand slam in Oakland’s Tuesday win.
A’s starter Frankie Montas, widely rumored to be on the trade block, limited the Astros to three runs (two earned) in five innings on Tuesday. Oakland’s bullpen has held Houston to three hits and one run over eight innings during the series.
Montas admitted after his win that he realizes he could be wearing a different uniform the next time he pitches.
“I’m not going to lie — of course I’ve been thinking about it,” he said. “There were times today where I was thinking it’s probably my last start here. But I’m not going to think about that. I’m going to think about the good moments … here that I have been a part of.”
No doubt, Astros general manager James Click has been paying attention to the improved play of several A’s who could be had for a price in the next week. He noted over the All-Star break that he had an itchy trigger finger after he was unable to add to a talented roster earlier this month.
“We have been doing everything we can to get the trade market moving,” Click said. “We are putting all the balls in the air. We are being as aggressive as we possibly can, because we think that this team has a chance to do something really special, and our job is to give them what they need in order to complete that.”
For now, what the Astros could use is a win before leaving Oakland. They will task right-hander Cristian Javier (6-5, 3.13 ERA) with that responsibility in the series finale.
Javier pitched the first four innings of a 3-1 win at Oakland on May 31, allowing one run. He has gone 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in nine regular-season meetings with the A’s, six as a starter.
A’s fans might also recognize the 25-year-old from his two relief appearances in the 2020 playoffs, when he earned one win for Houston at Oakland’s expense while pitching a total of 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
The A’s are expected to counter with their hottest pitcher, lefty Cole Irvin (5-7, 3.08 ERA). He has pitched brilliantly in July, going 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA. One of his wins and the lone loss came in back-to-back starts against the Astros.
He has made three starts against the Astros this season, going 1-1 while allowing just four runs in 17 2/3 innings. The 28-year-old has gone 1-4 with a 4.93 ERA in seven career starts against Houston.
–Field Level Media