Here’s the starting lineups for the Houston Astros and A’s for Tuesday night’s game, the first of the three-game series at the Coliseum:
LF Robbie Grossman
1B Brett Wallace
2B Jose Altuve
C Jason Castro
DH Chris Carter
3B Matt Dominguez
CF Brandon Barnes
RF L.J. Hoes
SS Jonathan Villar
P Jordan Lyles — 4-6, 5.40 ERA
CF Chris Young
SS Jed Lowrie
RF Josh Reddick
DH Yoenis Cespedes
1B Brandon Moss
3B Josh Donaldson
LF Seth Smith
C Stephen Vogt
2B Eric Sogard
P Bartolo Colon — 14-4, 2.75 ERA
OAKLAND – Left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson pitched a simulated inning in front of manager Bob Melvin before Tuesday’s game.
Anderson “threw the ball well,” Melvin said. Therefore, it’s time to ramp up his rehab from a sprained right ankle. That entails a two-inning stint in relief for Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday, Melvin said.
“Each and every time there’s been a lot of life on the ball, the intensity level is there and he wants to get back as soon as he can,” Melvin said. “He threw 28 pitches … and we treated it like a big-league inning.”
Anderson has missed 90 games – including Tuesday’s game against the Houston Astros — since he got injured.
Melvin said he isn’t sure whether Anderson will return to the starting rotation or pitch in relief once he is removed from the disabled list. Anderson will enter the game in the middle innings, Melvin said, so that he can get accustomed to that feeling.
In other news, catcher John Jaso traveled to Pittsburgh so that he could be evaluated by concussion expert Dr. Michael Collins.
Jaso arrived in Pittsburgh on Monday and met with Dr. Collins on Tuesday. Melvin said the A’s are awaiting the results from the examination. Jaso has missed the past 17 games.
No one had to sketch out the situation for Dan Straily.
The A’s bullpen was hurting from overwork and closer Grant Balfour was going to need a day off.
Straily needed to get deep into the game for the A’s to have a decent chance to win.
The right-hander had not even made it to the fifth inning in any of his previous three starts, but this time was different.
When you watch the A’s for any reasonable span of games, you get used to the fact that Grant Balfour doesn’t work particularly fast.
Sunday’s 27-minute, 37-pitch bottom of the ninth inning effort was unusual, even for Balfour.
He gave up a walk, an RBI double, then two more walks to load the bases before Jose Reyes grounded to second baseman Alberto Callaspo for the game’s final out.
“I was horrible today,’’ Balfour said. “I got the job done, but the guys were great.’’
The A’s are hoping that right-hander Sonny Gray will be one of those late-season additions to a team that will breathe needed life during a time of pennant racing.
Gray, who seems to be a talented prospect, may turn out to be just that. His first big league start, coming in his third big league game showed some evidence that he can handle what’s to come.
His command was all over the place in the first inning, and when it wasn’t, former AL home run champion Jose Bautista crushed a homer to center with a man on board to put Gray in an early hole.
Bob Melvin didn’t like seeing Coco Crisp diving for a sinking fly ball hit by Toronto’s Brett Lawrie in center field in the second inning Friday.
It wasn’t the strategy involved that concerned the manager, although the ball was not caught. It was the hard turf that Crisp was choosing to dive on.
Melvin needs to keep Crisp, his leadoff hitter, in the lineup, and one way to do that is for his center fielder not to dive on artificial surfaces.
Josh Donaldson, perfectionist.
It’s not always an easy thing, but it’s probably a good thing as far as the A’s are concerned.
Donaldson had gone without a homer or an RBI since the playing of Major League baseball had resumed after the All-Star break.
Derek Norris was stunned by his ninth-inning at-bat Tuesday.
It wasn’t because the A’s catcher homered against Reds’ left-hander Aroldis Chapman, perhaps the hardest-throwing pitcher in the game.
It was because the ball didn’t carry farther than it did. Center fielder Shin-soo Choo went back to the wall in center field and never had a chance for the ball. But the mere fact that Choo felt the need to retreat puzzled Norris.
Twice in the last four games the Oakland starting pitcher hasn’t made it to the fifth inning.
The last time Wednesday’s A’s starter, Bartolo Colon, pitched in Cincinnati, he gave up four home runs.
But there is no kidding that Wednesday’s start for Colon is a big one. He has thrown at least six innings and given up three or fewer runs in each of his last 15 starts. With the A’s offense on the rails, it figures that Colon is going to have to pitch to that standard for the A’s to come out of this series with a split.
I spent some time talking with Brandon Moss before the game about hitting in Great American Ball Park, home of the Reds.
Moss, who played two-plus years in Pittsburgh and visited Cincinnati regularly with the Pirates, had his eyes light up at the thought of playing here, even if it’s just for two games.
“For me, here and Philly are the two best places to hit,’’ Moss said. “The ball carries, and you don’t always have to hit the ball good.’’