Tuesday, September 26, 2023

MLB Preview: Oakland Athletics (45-99) at Houston Astros (82-63)


ABOUT THE A’S: Have won three of the last five games, are 6-4 in September and 11-9 over the last 20 games…this marks the first time this year the A’s have been above .500 over a 20-game stretch…are 33-49 (.402) over the last 82 games dating back to June 6 after going 12-50 (.194) over the first 62 contests…are 45-99 (.313) overall, which is the second lowest winning percentage in the majors ahead of the Royals (44-100, .306)…the 99 losses are third most in Oakland history…lost 102 games last year and the record is 108 in 1979…need one more win to avoid the Athletics record for most losses in a season (117 in 1916)…have a run differential of -299, which is the lowest in the majors…the lowest in Oakland history is -287 in 1979 and the lowest in Athletics history is -344 in 1915…have been swept 17 times, which ties the Oakland record set in 1978.

ALL OR NOTHING: The A’s have 99 losses and with one more loss will post the 18th season with 100 or more losses in Athletics history (3 in Oakland, 4 in Kansas City, 11 in Philadelphia)…already have the most 100-loss seasons in Major League history…have clinched the 36th last place finish in Athletics history (24 in the American League, 12 in the AL West), which breaks a tie with the Phillies for the most last place finishes in Major League history… however, the A’s have 10 seasons with 100 or more wins, a total which is surpassed only by the Yankees (21), and nine World Championships, which trails only the Yankees (27) and Cardinals (11)…more recently, over the last 12 seasons (2012-23) the A’s have either made the playoffs (6 times) or finished last (5 times) in 11 of the 12 seasons.

OFFENSE: The A’s are batting .253 (85-for-336) with 48 runs scored in 10 games in September (4.8 runs per game)…are batting .2251 overall, which is the lowest batting average in the majors behind the Yankees (.2252)…also have the lowest slugging percentage (.374), OPS (.675) and fewest runs (531) in the majors, rank second in fewest extra base hits (376), tied for second in most times shut out (14), third in lowest on-base percentage (.301) and fewest doubles (203), seventh in most strikeouts (1319), tied for eighth in most grounded into double plays (109) and ninth in fewest home runs (154)…are second in sacrifice hits (27) and sixth in hit batters (80)…the hit batters are fourth most in Oakland history (98 in 2021, 88 in 2001, 87 in 2019) and the sacrifice hits are the most since 2012 (27…had 34 in 2011).

IN THE PINCH: Seth Brown had the A’s 40th pinch hit of the season yesterday, which matches the most pinch hits by an American League team over the last 26 years (Rays, 2015)…the last AL team with more than 40 pinch hits is the 1997 A’s (57), and that is the only Oakland team in the designated hitter era with more than 40 pinch hits…the A’s have the most pinch hits in the majors and have not led the majors in pinch hits since 1927 when they had 50…have 182 plate appearances, which is the most in the majors and second most by an A’s team over the last 26 years (189 in 2014)…also rank fourth in the majors in walks (16), tied for seventh in doubles (5), home runs (4) and extra base hits (9) and tied for ninth in RBI (18).

PITCHING: The A’s tossed their fifth shutout of the season last night, which is fourth fewest in the majors…have a 3.74 ERA (37 er in 89.0 ip) in September, which is sixth lowest in the majors, but have a 5.57 ERA overall, which is second highest…the overall ERA is currently the highest in Oakland history (5.48 in 1997) and third highest in Athletics history (6.07 in 1936, 5.79 in 1939)… also have the second highest opponents OPS (.813), on-base percentage (.356) and slugging percentage (.457) in the majors and the fourth highest batting average (.268)…have hit 87 batters, which is the most in the majors, an Athletics record and eight short of the American League record (95, 2003 Devil Rays)…have a ML leading 616 walks, which are the most by an A’s team since 1997 (642)…have the most wild pitches in the majors (65), rank fifth in fewest strikeouts (1151) and sixth in most home runs (191).

STARTING PITCHING: A’s starting pitchers have allowed one run or fewer in six of 10 games in September but have tossed fewer than five innings six
times…are 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA (15 er in 44.0 ip) this month and 16-61 with a 5.83 ERA for the season…have the fewest wins in the majors, the second highest ERA and the third most losses…the fewest wins from starting pitchers in Major League history is 21 by the Pirates last year…the highest ERA in Athletics history is 5.94 in 1997…have tossed 7.1 innings or fewer in each game and have the second fewest innings pitched (654.1).

THE BULLPEN: The A’s bullpen tossed 7.0 scoreless innings last night, matching its longest scoreless outing over the last five years (Aug. 9, 2023 vs. Texas)…has a 5.28 ERA overall, which is third highest in the majors and is currently the highest in Oakland history (5.22 in 1980)…also has the most losses in the majors (38) and the second most innings pitched (608.1)…has set Athletics single-season records for most losses, walks (328) and runs allowed (386) by relievers…has the second most innings (608.1, record is 641.1 in 2018) and hits (592, record is 678 in 1997), third most strikeouts (555, record is 627 in 2018) and is tied for the fourth most home runs (74, record is 92 in 1964)…is 27-for-52 (51.9%) in save opportunities…is tied for the third fewest saves in the majors and has the fifth lowest save percentage…has allowed 102-of-262 (38.9%) inherited runners to score, which is the third highest percentage…has the second most inherited runners.

ON THE BASES: The A’s are 133-for-159 (83.6%) in stolen base attempts…rank fourth in the majors in stolen base percentage and fifth in steals and attempts…the stolen bases are the most by an A’s team since 2010 (156) and the only time in Athletics history the A’s had a stolen base percentage above 81.5 was in 2020 (89.7%)…A’s opponents are 97-for-142 (68.3%) in stolen base attempts, which is the lowest success rate in the majors…the 45 caught stealings are the most…A’s pitchers have 15 pickoffs, which is fourth most.

HOME AND AWAY: The A’s are 2-2 on this six-game road trip to Texas (1-2) and Houston (1-0)…went 3-4 on the last road trip to Chicago-AL (2-2) and Seattle (1-2) and are 21-52 (.288) on the road, which is second the worst road record in the majors (Royals, 18-54/.250)…the 52 road losses are tied for second most in Oakland history…the record is 58 in 1979…return home following the game tomorrow for the final homestand of the season a 10-game stand against San Diego (three games), Seattle (three games) and Detroit (four games) that begins on Friday…went 4-2 on the last homestand against Los Angeles-AL (3-0) and Toronto (1-2) and are 24-47 (.338) at home, which is the lowest home winning percentage in the majors…the 47 home losses are tied for third most in Oakland history (51 in 2022, 50 in 1979).

AGAINST THE WEST: The A’s are 12-32 (.273) against American League West teams, which is the second lowest intra-division winning percentage in the majors (Rockies, 9-32/.220)…the lowest mark in Oakland history is .306 (11- 25) in 1997 and the lowest mark by any team against its own division is .224 (17-59) by the Nationals last year.

PLAYER NOTES: The A’s have set Athletics records for most pitchers (39) and most relievers (36) in a season…have used 22 starting pitchers, which is second most in Major League history to the 1915 Philadelphia A’s (24)…have employed 60 players overall, which is second highest in Athletics history to the record of 64 set last year, and third highest in the majors this year (Reds 65, Angels 64)…the 39 pitchers are third most in the majors (Reds and Rays 40)…have employed 20 rookies, which is third most in Oakland history (34 in 2022, 21 in 2008)…Shintaro Fujinami leads the A’s with five wins…the fewest wins by a team-leader in Athletics history is six by Mike Fiers in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season…the fewest in a full season is eight by John Wasdin in 1996…Brent Rooker currently leads the A’s with 121 games played and whoever leads the A’s in games will finish with fewest games played by a team leader in a 162-game season in Athletics history.


  • The A’s have lost the season series for the eighth time in the last nine years as they are 2-9 with two games remaining.
  • Will finish with their lowest winning percentage against the Astros (previous: 6-13, .316 in 2016).
  • Have lost 15 of the last 18 games, including nine of the last 11 at Minute Maid Park.
  • Are 61-93 (.396) against Houston dating back to 2015 after winning each of their first four season series against the Astros (31-13, .705).

Year Home Road Totals
2023 1-6 1-3 2-9
2022 4-5 3-7 7-12
Oakland History: 92-106
at the Coliseum: 51-52
at Minute Maid Park: 41-54

Zack Gelof leads Major League rookies in doubles since the All-Star Break (16), ranks second in hits (54) and extra base hits (28), tied for third in home runs (11), fifth in runs (30) and tied for fifth in stolen bases (10)… Shea Langeliers hit his 18th home run of the season last night, which is tied for fourth in the majors among catchers…it is fifth most in Oakland history by a catcher…Esteury Ruiz has 58 stolen bases, which are the most in the American League, second most in the majors (Acuña, ATL 65) and second most in AL history by a rookie (66, Kenny Lofton, 1992).


FOR STARTERS: Is scheduled to make his team-leading 29th start of the season…is the only A’s pitcher to spend the entire season in the starting rotation…is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA (1 er in 11.0 ip) in two starts in September after collecting just two wins over his first 26 starts…went 0-3 with a 5.54 ERA and .819 opponents OPS over his first seven starts through May 8, 1-3 with a 3.03 ERA and .635 OPS in 11 starts from May 9 to July 15 and 1-5 with a 6.80 ERA and .785 OPS in eight starts from July 16 through the end of August.

OPPONENTS BATTING: Has a .231 (108-for-468) opponents batting average and .747 OPS against right-handed hitters compared to .319 (36-for-113) with a .938 OPS against left-handers…opponents are 3-for-52 (.058) on an 0-2 count…they are 0-for-5 with three strikeouts with the bases loaded.

HIT BATTERS: Has 15 hit batters, which is the most in the majors, an on-going Oakland single-season record and tied for 14th most in Athletics history… however, has the most hit batters by an A’s pitcher over the last 112 years… the last time an A’s pitcher had 15 or more hit batters was in 1911 when Cy Morgan had 21 and Jack Coombs had 16.

THE LONG BALL: Has not allowed a home run in his last two starts after yielding six over his previous three…has 31 for the season, which is tied for fifth most in the majors…is the 14th player (16th time) in Athletics history to allow 30 or more home runs in a season…is one of two left-handers to do it (Curt Young, 38 in 1987)…his 31 home runs are tied for 10th most in Athletics history and are the most since A.J. Griffin had 36 in 2013…19 of the 31 home runs are solo shots.

DECISIONS: Has 13 no decisions, which is tied for ninth most in the majors among starters…it is also tied for fourth most in Oakland history…only Ron Darling (15 in 1993), Ken Waldichuk (15 in 2023) and Mike Fiers (14 in 2019) have more…has left with the lead and was in position to win in four of his no decisions…has a 2.82 ERA (23 er in 73.1 ip) in his no decisions.

WINNING PERCENTAGE: Is 4-11 and his .267 winning percentage is eighth lowest in the majors…it is currently tied for fifth lowest in Oakland history and the only qualifying pitchers in Oakland history to have a lower winning percentage are Matt Keough (2-17, .105 in 1979), Steve Karsay (3-12, .200 in 1997), Brian Kingman (4-12, .250 in 1982) and Luis Medina (3-9, .250 in 2023).

AL AND NL: Snapped a nine-game losing streak against American League competition with a win over the Angels on Sept. 1…the losing streak was the longest by an A’s pitcher against the AL since the start of interleague play in 1997…is now 2-9 with a 5.00 ERA (60 er in 108.0 ip) in 20 starts against AL competition compared to 2-2 with a 3.30 ERA (16 er in 43.2 ip) in eight interleague starts.

THIS AND THAT: Has walked two batters or fewer in 22 of his 28 starts, including seven starts with no walks and nine with one…has issued 16 of his 43 walks in the first inning…has won each of his last two starts at home after stating the season 0-5 in Oakland…has a 3.28 ERA (25 er in 68.2 ip) in even numbered innings, a 5.53 ERA (51 er in 83.0 ip) in odd numbered innings.

2023 DAY-BY-DAY: Allowed eight hits in his first start on April 4 against Cleveland but then allowed six hits or fewer in each of his next 18 starts through July 16, which was the third longest such streak by a starting pitcher in Oakland history…fell two short of the record of 20 by Trevor Cahill (May 5-Aug. 14, 2010) and Tim Conroy (June 23, 1978-Aug. 31, 1983)…struck out a career-high 11 batters in 6.0 innings on April 21 at Texas but had a no decision in the A’s 5-4 win…finished April with an 0-2 record, a 6.23 ERA and .846 opponents OPS in five starts…then went 0-1 with a 2.94 ERA and .669 opponents OPS in six starts in May…tossed 6.0 scoreless innings on May 3 against Seattle but had a no decision in the A’s 7-2 10-inning loss…left with a 2-0 lead but the pen allowed one run in the seventh and one in the ninth for the blown save…it was the first of four times he left with the lead and was in position to get the win only to have the bullpen blow the save (May 25 at Seattle, July 9 at Boston, July 16 vs. Minnesota)…surrendered a career-high tying three home runs in a 7-2 loss at New York (AL) on May 8…that extended his losing streak to a career-high four games dating back to Sept. 25, 2022…posted a 5.55 ERA and .782 opponents OPS over that stretch, which spanned nine games, including eight starts…had a no decision in an 11-3 loss to Texas on May 14 to start a stretch of five consecutive no decisions from May 14 to June 5…compiled a 2.33 ERA and .609 opponents OPS during the streak, which fell one short of the Oakland record for consecutive starts without a decision…snapped his career-high four-game losing streak in the A’s 8-6 win at Milwaukee on June 11…it was his first win since Sept. 20, 2022 against Seattle…had tossed six innings or fewer in each of the first 24 starts of his career before logging 7.0 innings in back-to-back starts on June 16 vs. Philadelphia and June 22 at Cleveland, both losses…retired the final 10 batters he faced against the Phillies and the first 11 against the Guardians for a streak of 21 consecutive batters retired…tossed a career-high 7.1 scoreless innings, scattered five hits, and did not walk a batter on July 4 at Detroit but had a no decision in the As 1-0, 10-inning win…snapped his career-high tying four-game losing streak in the A’s 8-5 win at Colorado on July 28…then had another four-game losing streak from Aug. 3 to 26…compiled an 8.25 ERA and 1.120 opponents OPS during the streak, which spanned five starts… matched his career highs in hits (9) and home runs (3) in a 6-2 loss at Chicago (AL) on Aug. 26…went 0-4 with an 8.25 ERA and 1.120 opponents OPS in five starts in August…the losses tied for second in the majors this year and matched the most by an Athletic in August over the last 54 years…based on a minimum of 20 innings, he had the second highest August OPS in Athletics history (Troy Herriage, 1.186 in 1956)…tossed 6.0 scoreless innings on Sept. 1 in a 9-2 win over Los Angeles (AL)…it snapped his career-high tying four-game losing streak and it also snapped a six-game home losing streak dating back to 2022…it was his first win in the Coliseum since Sept. 20, 2022 against Seattle.

LAST START: He won his second consecutive start in the A’s 5-2 victory over Toronto last Wednesday in Oakland…allowed a RBI single to Clement in the second inning but that was the only run he would allow in five innings of work…was relieved by Miller to start the sixth with the A’s leading 2-1.


TONIGHT’S TILT: With just 17 games remaining on the schedule, the first-place Astros will try to extend their 2.0-game division lead tonight in the middle game of their three-game series with the A’s…future Hall-of-Famer RHP Justin Verlander will try to even up the series tonight, as he makes his eighth start of the season for the Astros…he’ll be opposed by LHP JP Sears, who’s gone 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA (7ER/11.2IP) in two starts against the Astros this season.

TONIGHT’S CHARITY GAME: Tonight is the annual Astros Foundation Charity Game and Auction, with all proceeds benefiting the Astros Foundation and their partners: .I.G. Love Cancer Care, Candlelighters, The Sunshine Kids and Texas Children’s…during tonight’s game, in-person, online or via phone, fans will have the opportunity to purchase incredible packages of items that range from $100 to $5,000…for more information on tonight’s Charity Game, or to purchase packages,
please visit Astros.com/CharityGame.

LIKE A FINE WINE: 40-year-old RHP Justin Verlander will make his 24th start of the season and the 506th start of his career tonight…he is 5-2 with a 3.43 ERA (16ER/42IP) in his seven starts since returning to the Astros via trade on Aug. 1…in his last start, he hurled 7.0 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) in the Astros 12-3 win last Wednesday at TEX.

VS. OAKLAND: The Astros are 9-2 against the A’s this season and are 15-3 against Oakland in their last 18 matchups… including this year, the Astros have won the season series vs. the A’s in eight straight years (2015-23), which excludes the shortened 2020 season…RF Kyle Tucker (.306, 11×36, 4 HR, 10 RBI), 3B Alex Bregman (.289, 13×45, 3 HR, 9 RBI) and LF Yordan Alvarez (.250, 6×24, 3 HR) have combined for 10 homers against the A’s on the season.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT: The Astros were shut out by the visiting A’s last night in a 4-0 defeat…LHP Framber Valdez (3ER/7IP) was solid in the start, striking out 10, while pitching atounf four hits and a walk…the offense was limited to just three hits on the night, including a two-hit night by SS Jeremy Peña.

FINDING HIS GROOVE:LHP Framber Valdez has made four consecutive quality starts, posting a 2.00 ERA (6ER/27IP) with 25 strikeouts and a .161 opponent’s batting average (15×93) in those outings…on the season, Valdez ranks second in the AL in innings pitched (181.2), fourth in opponent average (.226), sixth in ERA (3.32) and seventh in WHIP (1.10).

HOW THE WEST WAS WON: The Astros began play last Monday (Sept. 4) in a virtual tie for second place, 1.0 game back of the Mariners…they took sole possession of first place after their victory at TEX last Tuesday (Sept. 5) and now, a week later, the Astros enter tonight’s game with a 2.0-game lead in the division over the Rangers…the Astros have won the AL West in five straight full seasons (excluding 2020).

TIDES TURNED: The Astros offense has been on another level since July 26, which coincides with the return of 2B Jose Altuve and LF Yordan Alvarez off IL stints…since that date, the Astros offense leads the AL in nearly all offensive categories, including runs per game (6.25), batting average (.286), OBP (.362),
SLG (.489) and OPS (.851)…prior to their returns and through July 25, the Astros ranked sixth in the AL in runs per game (4.70) and seventh in OBP (.318), SLG (.411) and OPS (.729).

SITTING ON 99: RF Kyle Tucker has hit 99 career home runs and is looking to become the 20th player in franchise history to reach the 100-homer milestone…speaking of the number 100, Tucker surpassed 100 RBI on the season on Saturday and now leads the American League in RBI on the season (103).

STREAKING ‘STROS: LF Yordan Alvarez has reached base safely in 19 straight games, while hitting .397 (27×68) with a .527 OBP and a 1.204 OPS over that stretch…meanwhile, 3B Alex Bregman has hit safely in 19 of his last 22 games, hitting .378 (34×90) with a .457 OBP and a 1.068 OPS in that span.

SPICY JALA-PEÑA: SS Jeremy Peña has 19 multi-hit games in his last 42 contests (since July 26), posting a .329 (54×164) average and a .396 OBP in that time frame…over his last 42 games, he’s raised his season average from .235 to .263.

LEVELING LEFTIES: OF Chas McCormick (.348) and SS Jeremy Peña (.333) rank first and tied for third in the AL in batting average vs. LHP…collectively, the Astros offense leads the AL in hits (403), homers (63), SLG (.475) and OPS (.818) vs. left-handed pitchers…additionally, the Astros are 28-17 in games against left-handed starters.

SEÑOR SCORELESS: RHP Bryan Abreu has not allowed a run in his last 20 appearances (19.2 IP), striking out 23 batters during that span, while going two-for-two in saves and posting seven holds…his streak is the longest active scoreless innings streak by a reliever in the Majors and the longest by any Astros pitcher this season…this streak is the second-longest of his career, trailing only a 21.2-inning streak reached last season.

Troy Wins

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