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A's Sunday Summary

Winter Meetings 2023

Given the way the Oakland A’s 2022 season went, you could almost say that the off-season is going to be more interesting than the action on the field.

MLB’s Winter Meetings get underway today in San Diego. Whilst other fanbases are excitedly dreaming about their team reeling in one of the big free agents, we are left looking up details of prospects on teams being linked with a trade for Sean Murphy.

After the blow-out of the last off-season, Murphy is really our only established Major Leaguer of any great value left to trade, subject to Ramón Laureano recapturing some of his previous form in the first half of the 2023 season to entice offers ahead of the trade deadline.

Amidst all of the other chaos, Murphy quietly put together a very impressive season, mixing a quality approach at the plate with his usual outstanding defence at one of the hardest fielding positions on the diamond. Add in the fact that he has three years remaining under contract and it’s no surprise that every potential contending team that hasn’t already got a good everyday catcher is reportedly flirting with the A’s.

Return of the Winter Meetings

The big difference compared to last year is that the A’s Front Office has more normal trading conditions to work within, rather than the mad rush produced by the protracted player lock-out. A’s General Manager David Forst has spoken in the past about how much more difficult the contracted nature of the 2021/22 off-season made it to fully tease out the potential trade packages from interested parties.

The annual Winter Meetings gathering was one of many things that was cancelled last year. With the key Front Office staff from all 30 teams in one place, alongside the leading agents and hordes of media, everything starts moving much more quickly. Even if a deal isn’t finalised before everyone flies off, you’ll often find that a deal agreed over the coming month or so had its roots in discussions that took place at the Winter Meetings.

The A’s are in no rush to trade Murphy due to his contract length and that there isn’t the pressing need to rid everyone off the payroll as there was last off-season. He is one of only four players presently under contract for 2023 who will be earning more than the league minimum, the others being Laureano, Tony Kemp and Paul Blackburn.

Much as I want to keep our “Big Boy Home Runs” flag flying for a bit longer, it still looks inevitable that he will be on another team by Spring Training, if not by Christmas. Demand significantly outstrips supply right now when it comes to quality catchers on the market. It is less a question of whether an acceptable offer is received, more which team is most willing to put together a trade package that best suits our Front Office’s design (MLB-ready talent, young prospects a few years away etc).

Rule 5 Draft

The return of the Winter Meetings also includes the return of the Rule 5 Draft after last year’s was cancelled.

The Rule 5 Draft gives teams the opportunity to pick and purchase (for $100k) certain eligible players who are not currently on another team’s 40-man roster. The caveat is that you have to keep a selected player on your 26-man MLB roster all season to keep hold of their rights from then on. That can be a struggle if the player is talented but a little over-matched in the Majors right now; however, it’s the type of situation that non-contending teams like the A’s can sometimes take advantage of.

An example of that came in 2018 when the Baltimore Orioles made the first pick to select Richie Martin from the A’s. Martin was a sweet-fielding shortstop with a questionable bat that was not yet ready for the Majors and possibly never would be.

Oakland took a small risk in leaving him unprotected ahead of the Rule 5 Draft, partly because it was unlikely he would hit enough to stay up on the Big League roster for a full season at that point.

As the Orioles were going to lose 100+ games in 2019 anyway, they decided it was worth taking the short-term hit. Sure enough, Martin struggled to a .208/.260/.322 batting line in 120 games, but he stayed on the roster and gave Baltimore the chance to see if he could develop in their system.

Ultimately it hasn’t worked out as Martin appeared in only 37 MLB games in 2021, followed by 13 in 2022, and was released by the Orioles at the start of October. Still, it’s the sort of very-low-risk gamble that a rebuilding team has the opportunity to try and the A’s may take a punt on a similar type of player in the upcoming draft.

The A’s most successful signee in recent years was Mark Canha in 2014. He is a good example of a little trick teams can pull if they know a team picking ahead of them is not interested in selecting someone (usually because their 40-man roster is already full so they have no space to add another player). The Colorado Rockies agreed to select Canha in the draft from the Miami Marlins, then sold him to us for a nominal amount above the $100k rate.

The Rule 5 Draft will take place on Wednesday and the development logjam created by the lost 2020 Minor League season means there are a few more interesting projects available. The A’s are certain to grab at least one player, probably a relief pitcher, this time around.

Draft Lottery

The other main event at this year’s Winter Meetings is going to be the first ever MLB draft lottery. This takes place on Tuesday and will determine the order at the top end of each round of the 2023 Amateur Player Draft in June.

In previous seasons the draft order predominantly has been set by win-loss record in reverse order; however that created the perverse situation in which there would be a race to the bottom to get the Number One pick. Under the old system the Washington Nationals would have had the Number One pick, with the A’s picking second. Of course, it’s very A’s-like for us to go into a rebuild just as that rule changed.

Under the new system, all 18 non-playoff teams from 2022 have a chance at getting the first pick based on a lottery that uses a variety of complicated factors that give different teams a different percentage chance of winning.

Feel free to Google it if you want to know the full ins and outs, but in short the A’s have a 16.5% chance of getting the Number One pick and are guaranteed to get a pick within the first 8.

A’s 2023 Coaching Staff confirmed

The A’s officially announced Mark Kotsay’s coaching staff for 2023 and in doing so confirmed the reports that Brad Ausmus is not returning as the Bench Coach. That position has gone to Darren Bush who served as the team’s Third Base Coach last season.

Other changes in coaching assignments see Marcus Jensen move from Bullpen Coach to Quality Control, Mike Aldrete move from Quality Control to First Base Coach and Eric Martins going from First Base Coach to Third Base Coach.

Scott Emerson (Pitching Coach), Tommy Everidge (Hitting Coach) and Chris Cron (Assistant Hitting Coach) all stay in their previous roles, whilst Mike McCarthy joins the A’s as the new Bullpen Coach. McCarthy was a pitching instructor at the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A team last season.

Hopefully they will have a few new players to coach once they reconvene in February for Spring Training.

Around the Bases

First: The Texas Rangers fired the first shot ahead of the Winter Meetings by announcing on Friday the signing of former Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom. The ex-New York Met has agreed a five-year contract that guarantees $185M and could be worth $222M if an option year gets picked-up. My AUK pals and I were at the Coliseum on September 24th when the A’s knocked him out of the game after just 4 innings having chalked up 5 runs. It was funny at the time, particular with 800 or so Mets fans in attendance, although as we will now see him several times per season the old adage of “he who laughs last …” may come back to haunt us.

Second: The Houston Astros confirmed the signing of first baseman José Abreu at the start of the week, taking him as a free agent from the Chicago White Sox on a three-year, $58.5M contract. Now that deGrom is off the board we may see the pace quicken in the market for fellow elite starting pitcher Justin Verlander. The Astros are keen to bring him back, but they will now have to factor in the New York Mets as a potential bidder for him with their deGrom-shaped hole to fill.

Third: Staying on the Mets theme, they announced this week that former A’s favourite Eric Chavez has been moved to the position of Bench Coach under Buck Showalter. Chavy is earning an impressive reputation as a coach and looks destined to become a Big League manager in the future. The six-year, $66M contract extension he signed with the A’s back in 2004 remains the most lucrative commitment the team has made in a player, which given how significantly revenues across MLB have increased over the past 18 years is yet one more sad fact about the way our team has been run over the past two decades.

Home: Finally, former A’s reliever J.B. Wendelken has found a new home in Japan. The righty departed from the Arizona Diamondbacks as a free agent and has joined the Yokohama BayStars on a one-year deal, with a further year’s option, that MLB Trade Rumors reports could earn him up to $3M.

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MLB UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week Commencing 8 August 2022

Let’s not talk about the Bay Bridge Series. Instead, let’s focus on the week ahead and a bunch of games against AL West division rivals.

We start with three games at home against the LA Angels, with Wednesday’s game being an early start and available out-of-market for free on MLB.com.

109 games into the regular season and the LA Angels, unfortunately for them, have gone all “Angelsy” again. They are 46-63, so just five games better off than us despite spending $140m more on their payroll (which would be even funnier were it not for the obvious joy John Fisher will take from this fact). After the A’s went a scarcely believable 5-21 in June, the Angels cratered almost as badly in July by going 6-18.

All of which is to say that this is probably not a series that will be grabbing the attention of any neutrals, although I guess a Shohei Ohtani start (scheduled to pitch on Tuesday) is always an event of some kind. The probable starting pitching match-ups are as follows:

  • Gm1. Cole Irvin – José Suarez
  • Gm2. James Kaprielian – Shohei Ohtani
  • Gm3. Paul Blackburn – Patrick Sandoval.

After that, it’s off to Texas for games against the Astros and then the Rangers.

Somehow we have managed to split the 12 games we’ve played so far against the Astros, so you know they will be desperate to put that right; however the A’s have had their number of late and maybe we can keep that run going a little bit longer.

Probable pitchers are as follows:

  • Gm1. Adam Oller – Lance McCullers Jr.
  • Gm2. Adrián Martínez – Luis Garcia
  • Gm3. Cole Irvin – Cristian Javier

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MLB UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week Commencing 25 July 2022

The Oakland A’s once again let slip the chance to win their first series sweep of the season yesterday, although they showed plenty of fight in the process.

I’ll be honest, once the A’s went down 11-1 to the Texas Rangers in the top of the sixth inning, I decided to call it a night and headed to bed.

That meant I missed the A’s offense finally coming alive, scoring seven runs on four homers including back-to-back-to-back jacks.

In another season I would reluctantly concede this late flurry as being of little consequence. When you are fighting for a play-off place, offensive outbursts when the game is already gone don’t count for anything. A loss is a loss whether it was a close game or not.

However, in a rebuilding year such as this there are always things you can take from every game, no matter the result.

It’s easy for a team to show character and spirit when things are going well. In a long tough season, finding a way to keep your heads up is a difficult task however professional the players are. You have to be impressed by the way a group of players who could have accepted yet another loss decided they were going to fight to the end come what may.

We’ll need those same battling qualities this week with another series against the Houston Astros and then three games in Chicago against the White Sox.

Houston (H)

The Astros come into this week with a 64-32 record after sweeping a series in Seattle. They lead the Mariners by 13 games at the top of the AL West and are already a full 30 games ahead of the A’s, so the form book would suggest that the Astros should take at least two of the three games at the Coliseum.

The form book said the same thing just before the All-Star Break when the A’s went to Minute Maid Park and took two of three, so maybe Mark Kotay’s men can repeat that feat and sign off on what has been an encouraging home-stand so far. The probable pitching match-ups are as follows:

Game 1: Adam Oller – Jake Odorizzi
Game 2: Frankie Montas – Luis Garcia
Game 3: Cole Irvin – Cristian Javier

Much as I don’t want to think about it, the obvious thing to point out is Game Two on Tuesday and the strong likelihood that this will be Frankie’s final start in the Green and Gold at the Coliseum.

It seems all but certain that only a recurrence of his recent shoulder injury will prevent Montas from being dealt before the trade deadline on Tuesday August 2nd. If Frankie makes the start tomorrow as planned then his next scheduled start would not be until deadline day, as we have an off-day on Thursday and then on the Monday, so hopefully he can sign off in style with a great performance and a win.

Chicago White Sox (A)

The team will then head on to Chicago for our first meeting with the White Sox this season.

Tony La Russa’s team are currently an underwhelming 48-48 bearing in mind the talent on their roster and the expectations for them coming into the season. They have had some injuries to key players, with Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal returning recently from a spell on the sidelines, and Luis Robert has just joined that list due to illness. That still doesn’t explain how they are not over .500 having played nearly 100 games of the regular season.

So long as the White Sox sit in third place in the AL Central, the surprising decision by owner Jerry Reinsdorf to bring La Russa out of retirement to manage this young team ahead of the 2021 season will continue to be called into question. The one thing they have in their favour is that they only sit four games behind the division-leading Minnesota Twins, so if they can get their act together over the next 64 games they still have a good chance of making the play-offs.

The probable pitching match-ups for the series are as follows:

Game 1: James Kaprielian – Lance Lynn
Game 2: Paul Blackburn – Johnny Cueto
Game 3: Adam Oller – Dylan Cease

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MLB UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week beginning 11 July 2022

The first half of the 2022 season has felt like a long haul, even with the regular schedule getting underway later than planned following the off-season lock-out.

There’s no denying that a lacklustre rebuilding season such as the A’s are going through can make it difficult to keep the enthusiasm up, especially for those of us battling the time difference.

The All-Star Break will therefore come as a welcome chance to reset and to find a second wind for the second half, for A’s fans and players alike. We can at least find some joy in Paul Blackburn being named to the American League All-Star team as a wonderful story for a pitcher who has worked incredibly hard to prove himself at the Major League level.

The final week before the festivities sees the A’s on a road-trip to Texas, starting against the Rangers at Globe Life Field before heading to Minute Maid Park to renew hostilities with the Houston Astros.

Texas Rangers (A)

It’s been an up-and-down first half for the Rangers after their off-season spending splurge.

An awful 7-14 April was followed by a magnificent 17-10 May, only to then lead to a below-par 15-20 June and early July.

Texas has won 5 of 7 against the A’s so far this season with our batting line-up managing to score only 19 runs combined across those games (not quite 3 per game), so there’s plenty of room for improvement on our end. The scheduled starting pitchers are as follows:

Game 1: Adrián Martínez – Spencer Howard
Game 2: James Kaprielian – Glenn Otto
Game 3: Paul Blackburn – Jon Gray

Houston Astros (A)

Avoiding being swept by the Astros at the Coliseum over the weekend just gone counts as an achievement for Mark Kotsay’s team in a year of appropriately low expectations.

Repeating the feat on the road will be another small feather in the cap bearing in mind we’re scheduled to face Jose Urquidy and Jake Odorizzi again, both of whom pitched very well against us, and the ever foreboding presence of Justin Verlander too.

The one crumb of comfort is that the A’s are optimistic that Frankie Montas will be ready to return from his spell on the sidelines. The Front Office must have held their heads in their hands as Frankie’s shoulder started bothering him a month before the trade deadline, but it looks like the cortisone shot has done the trick in bringing down the inflammation.

Game 1: Frankie Montas – Justin Verlander
Game 2: Cole Irvin – José Urquidy
Game 3: Adrián Martínez – Jake Odorizzi

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UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week beginning 4 July 2022

The A’s are heading back home after a tough 10-game road-trip, which would sound like a good development but the Coliseum hasn’t exactly been Home Sweet Home this season either.

Add to that the quality of the two teams we’re facing this week and it could be a case of enjoying the 4th of July Fireworks tonight, praying for the best with Frankie Montas’s shoulder injury, and anything else being a bonus.

Toronto (H)

The Blue Jays come into the week on a 44-36 win-loss record and have just slipped behind the Boston Red Sox into third place in the AL East after losing three in a row to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Toronto have been a team of two halves over the past 30 days. Whilst their batting line-up has been excellent, leading the Majors with 171 runs scored during that span, their pitching has been hit by injuries and some ineffectiveness.

Their pitching staff’s combined ERA over the past 30 days of 4.70 ERA is the eighth worst across the Majors and, although they’ve not been terrible throughout that stretch, it’s the part of their game that they need to improve in the second-half of the season if they want to be true play-off contenders.

Probable pitching match-ups are as follows:

Game 1: Alek Manoah – Cole Irvin
Game 2: Yusei Kikuchi – Adrian Martinez
Game 3: José Berríos – James Kaprielian

Houston (H)

It’s always a treat to welcome the Astros to the Coliseum, of course, and this series will be no exception.

The Astros have won 14 of their past 17 games, including six on the spin heading into this week. Their 51-27 win-loss record is second only to the New York Yankees (58-22) and they already have a 13.5 game lead over second place in the AL West, so there’s no doubting they are the class of the division by quite a margin.

They’ve got a four-game series at home against the Kansas City Royals Monday to Thursday before heading out west to face us over the weekend, so we can probably forget the idea that their confidence might take a dent before we face them.

Perhaps they may just get bored of winning and we can take a couple from them! Probable pitching match-ups for the series are as follows:

Game 1: José Urquidy – Paul Blackburn
Game 2: Framber Valdez – TBD
Game 3: Jake Odorizzi – Cole Irvin

Our nemesis Justin Verlander is currently on schedule to start on Thursday against the Royals, so we should miss him this time around. That potential good news gets balanced out by the potential bad news associated with our scheduled starter for Saturday.

We should hear more about Frankie Montas’s injury status later today after he lasted just one inning on Sunday against the Mariners. The initial reaction from Frankie was that he and the team were erring on the side of caution, but the MRI scans today will tell the tale. Even the best case scenario makes it likely that he’ll skip a turn in the rotation to ensure he can get a couple of performances in before the trade deadline is reached at the end of July.

It’s sad to write that maintaining Frankie’s trade value is the most important thing for the A’s right now; however it’s sadly true.

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MLB UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week beginning 30 May 2022

The A’s managed to grab a walk-off win on Sunday to avoid being swept in a four-game series by the Texas Rangers.

Marcus Semien hit his first home run of the season and, of course, it was a grand slam just to really drive the point home. We all knew it was going to come against us, but thankfully there are always new heroes to cheer for as well as, occasionally, one or two who have stuck around.

Jed Lowrie singled home Cristian Pache to give the A’s a 6-5 win yesterday and that means they can go into this week with a bit of confidence.

Getting the better of the Astros and the Red Sox requires a lot more than a spring in the step so we’re going to need the bullpen to get over their recent blip and the A’s batters to brush aside their RSIPin’ woes of yesterday (the A’s went 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position).

The good news is that four of the six games coming up this week are day-time affairs at the Coliseum, so we get to watch them live at a convenient time. And if that’s not enough, Monday and Wednesday’s games are both being broadcast on UK TV via BT Sport.

A look back at the Rangers series, and a look ahead to the Astros one, is now up on our YouTube channel too:

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UK Schedule

A’s Schedule This Week: 27th September

The final week of the 2021 MLB regular season is upon us and we need an epic week for the A’s, as well as some help from elsewhere, to prolong our season beyond Sunday.

It’s almost ‘same again’ as last week, albeit with us facing the Mariners and then the Astros on the road rather than at the Coliseum. The home ‘leg’ was a tale of two very contrasting fortunes, so we’ll see what this week brings.

There are plenty of permutations in an intriguing AL Wild Card race; however it’s simple enough for the A’s. Realistically, the aim has to be to win all six remaining games to get us to 91 wins.

Seattle Mariners (A)

Season series so far: 4-12

If we miss out on the play-offs then we can look back at how we’ve played against the Mariners as a key reason why. They’re a better team than some want to give credit, but it would be a let-down for us to finish behind them in the standings given the quality we have, never mind the disappointment of potentially not claiming a Wild Card spot.

The way they swept us last week was almost the death knell for our season. We have to get revenge by getting the brooms out at T-Mobile Park if we are to have any chance of being in the mix over the final weekend.

  • Gm1. Cole Irvin – Chris Flexen
  • Gm2. Chris Bassitt – Yusei Kikuchi
  • Gm3. Frankie Montas – Logan Gilbert.

Houston Astros (A)

Season series so far: 7-9

After the Astros swept the four-game opening series, it tasted very sweet to get a sweep over them this past weekend. Doing it again and winning the season series 10-9 would be a near-miraculous turnaround.

That would be fitting given that we’re in need of a miracle over the final week!

  • Gm1. Sean Manaea – Zack Greinke
  • Gm2. Paul Blackburn – Framber Valdez
  • Gm3. Chris Bassitt – Jake Odorizzi
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UK Schedule

A’s Schedule This Week: 20th September

There are 13 regular season games left for the A’s and, whilst we’re not quite as high in the standings as we would like to be, a Wild Card spot is still within reach.

If we are to make the play-offs for the fourth consecutive season we will have to do it by bossing things against our nearest rivals in the AL West. We have two weeks of the Mariners and Astros, firstly at home and then in Seattle and Houston.

Seattle Mariners (H)

Season series so far: 4-8

Our season records against the Mariners and Astros put it all into context. Those teams have had the better of us so far this season and we need to turn that around, starting with Seattle.

The Mariners come into this series having taken two out of three against the Royals. They’ve had a bit of a bump in the road of late, going 3-5 in their last eight games, and that leaves them two games behind us in the standings. This series is a chance to not only make some ground on those above us, but to put some separation between us and the Mariners.

Probable pitchers are as follows:

  • Gm1. Sean Manaea – Tyler Anderson
  • Gm2. Paul Blackburn – Marco Gonzales
  • Gm3. Cole Irvin – Chris Flexen
  • Gm4. TBD (Chris Bassitt?) – Yusei Kikuchi

The Game Four starter is still to be determined. It would be James Kaprielian’s turn in the rotation but it is possible that Chris Bassitt may make a return depending on how his bullpen session goes earlier in the week.

Houston Astros (H)

Season series so far: 4-9

The Astros blitzed their way through June and July (35-17) and have played some steady baseball ever since to ensure they have a decent lead at the top of the division. They could still be caught if the A’s can really put a blazing run together, although let’s see where we are at the end of the home-stand before getting too optimistic!

There’s a bit more uncertainty on the probable pitchers here depending on how things shake out earlier in the week, but assuming Kap doesn’t start on Thursday it would appear to be set up as follows:

  • Gm1. James Kaprielian – Zack Greinke
  • Gm2. Frankie Montas – Jake Odorizzi
  • Gm3. Sean Manaea – Framber Valdez
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UK Schedule

A’s Schedule This Week: 5th July

After a disappointing 2-4 home-stand, albeit a couple of those losses could easily have gone our way instead, the A’s will hope that a trip to Texas allows them to go into the All-Star break on a high note.

Houston Astros (A)

Season series so far: 3-7

The A’s took 2 out of 3 when they last played the Astros at Minute Maid Park in mid-April, which hopefully will be a good omen for this series. The Astros are 3.5 games ahead in the AL West coming into it and have been in good form of late, completing a four-game sweep of Cleveland yesterday.

Gm1. Chris Bassitt – Framber Valdez
Gm2. Sean Manaea – Luis Garcia
Gm3. Frankie Montas – Lance McCullers Jr.

Texas Rangers (A)

Season series so far: 3-4

Another series against the Rangers?! We somehow went through most of the first half of the season without playing them, before facing them seven times in the past two weeks. They’ve narrowly had the better of it so far, mainly because Joey Gallo decided to hit every half-decent pitch he saw for a home run in the last series.

Gm1. Cole Irvin – Jordan Lyles
Gm2. James Kaprielian – Mike Foltynewicz
Gm3. Chris Bassitt – Kolby Allard

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Game Report

A Classic A’s Win

After a 6-2 loss in the series opener against Houston on Thursday night, the A’s 6-2 victory on Friday was completed in classic A’s style by some classic A’s players.

Often you find teams looking to new recruits to get a team going again, but we’re not the sort of club that tends to bring in the type of impact players that can be true game-changers.

Instead, when we needed some big performances to finally get a win against that mob, it was some old faithfuls who got the job done.

On the pitching side, Sean Manaea bounced back from his previous Astros outing with a very solid six innings before Petit, Trivino and Diekman held it down from the bullpen (the latter in more dramatic fashion then was necessary, thank you Jake).

As for the offence, we hit as many home runs in this single game (3) as we had been able to muster in the previous eight combined. Lowrie (sort of a ‘new recruit’, I guess), Olson and Canha did the damage, with the three-run Oly Bomb in the eighth inning turning the game on its head. The non-socially-distanced Minute Maid Park had the air sucked out of it when Oly put that ball into the second deck, which was probably for the best considering pretty much none of the clowns were wearing masks.

For 20 years or more now, the A’s have been seen as a team that shuns so-called ‘small ball’ tactics in favour of big innings based on big blasts. Like most stereotypes, this is a generalisation that doesn’t really tell the whole story. It’s not that the team doesn’t steal bases or do little things like sacrifice bunts, just that they balance the risk and reward differently to others and therefore are more selective in when they decide to roll the dice.

Last night’s game provided a good example. With a 4-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning and Elvis Andrus on first base with no outs, Aramis Garcia put down a perfect sacrifice bunt. It made sense there for two main reasons.

Firstly, Garcia was hitting in the nine spot and isn’t in good form at the plate right now, so there was a good chance he would make an out or even ground into a double-play. You might as well accept the out here and give the top of your order the chance with a runner in scoring position (so we could be “risping away” …).

Secondly, the criticism of small-ball tactics largely comes back to it often meaning you are sacrificing outs just to score one run. Doing that earlier in a game doesn’t make much sense because your opponent has plenty of time to get the run back. In this case, the Astros only had three outs left to play with making it more valuable to move from a 3-run lead to a 4-run lead.

It turned out that Mark Canha smacked a pitch into the left-field Crawford Boxes for a two-run home run. I think that counts as the baseball equivalent of having your cake and eating it.

There’s long been a debate as to whether the A’s approach is partly why the team has fallen short in the play-offs so often, that if the bats go quiet for a few games we don’t have a Plan B and can’t ‘manufacture’ a run or two.

Much smarter minds than mine can crunch the numbers on that. What I do know is that whilst a home-run approach can be frustrating when we lose, it’s a huge amount of fun when it works. It’s like the difference between winning a boxing match on points and winning it with a couple of left hooks.

Let’s hope we can land a few more blows on them today to finish up this tough 10-game opening stretch on a high. At the very least, another Oly bomb or two landing into the crowd might knock a bit of sense in to a couple of their fans.

First pitch is 9.05 pm UK time (1.05 pm Oakland) and the game is being broadcast live here on the BT Sport/ESPN channel.