Since the All-Star break, the Oakland Athletics have relied on a steady diet of excellent starting pitching and timely offense to expand their lead over the Texas Rangers in the AL West to six games, and they’ll look to build on a 10-run outburst Sunday when they take on the Toronto Blue Jays Monday at O.co Coliseum.
While some of the A’s big hitters have been in a funk, it’s been the role players that have stepped up to the plate to provide the offensive output the team is going to need if they hope to match their fantastic first half.
Derek Norris hit a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw in the seventh inning Saturday afternoon against the Angels, snapping an 0-for-14 streak as a pinch hitter to provide the go-ahead score, and Eric Sogard went 3-for-4 Sunday with two RBI to seal a series win for Oakland. The two players are just the most recent example of the A’s hitting-by-committee approach that has been essential as the middle of the order tries to put together some consistent at-bats to match the effort of the team’s elite starting rotation. Sogard will bat second Monday night.
They’ll get their chance tonight against Toronto, which comes into the game at a disappointing 48-56 after some big acquisitions over the offseason. The Blue Jays are coming off of a series win over the owners of the league’s worst record, the Houston Astros, and they actually sit one spot ahead of the A’s in the AL in runs scored with 480 on the season – 24 of which came in their four-game matchup against Houston.
Right-hander Esmil Rogers will be on the mound for Toronto, and he’s made the delicate transition from the bullpen to a starter’s role while accumulating a 3-4 record with a 3.74 ERA.
A.J. Griffin will take the hill for Oakland, and he’ll be trying to win his fourth decision in his last five starts. Griffin has shown a tendency to give up home runs, and the Astros hit two against him in his last start, bringing his season-total to 23, tied for third-most in the Majors. 17 of them have come with no one on base, however, and that same number denotes how many have come on the road.
Game time is set for 7:05 PST.
1. C. Crisp CF
2. E. Sogard 2B
3. J. Lowrie SS
4. Y. Cespedes LF
5. B. Moss 1B
6. J. Donaldson 3B
7. J. Reddick RF
8. S. Smith DH
9. S. Vogt C