By John Hickey
Sunday, April 7th, 2013 at 4:17 pm in 2013 regular season.
The A’s come out of Houston feeling pretty good about themselves.
And they swept a three-game series by outscoring Houston 23-9 and the A’s are riding a five-game winning streak that has them in first place in the American League West in the early going.
The thing is, it’s Houston. The Astros have lost 106 and 107 games the last two seasons, and nothing that the first week of the season has presented suggests Houston will be much better this time around.
All I’m saying is that it’s going to be difficult to judge how good a team is by how they do against the Astros. Each of the AL West teams will face the ‘Stros 18 or 19 times, and the Astros will probably not be favored in more than a handful of games.
It will come as no surprise if the Astros, playing in an admittedly tough division, wind up losing more than 100 games again this year.
What does this mean for the A’s? Well, they have another 16 games against the Astros, including three in the Coliseum starting a week from Monday.
These games give the A’s a chance to build up good feelings about themselves. For example, Oakland is feeling at the top of its game heading into a three-game set against the Angels starting Tuesday in Anaheim. The Angels are the pick of many to win the division, but the same was true last year and the Angels finished third.
“They’re deep and not just on offense,’’ A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “They’ve revamped their starting rotation and that pitching staff just looks better, across the board.
“You’ve got to play your best baseball to beat them.’’
Tuesday will be particularly emotional for the Angels, because it’s their home opener. This will be the first chance for the new kid on the block, outfielder Josh Hamilton, to play in front of the fans who will be his home crowd for the foreseeable future.
The A’s are at their best, last year and so far this year, when they play with poise and confidence and don’t let emotion get too much into the equation.
It’ll be interesting to see if they can do that this week. The Angels are not the Astros.