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Know Your Enemy: Oakland Athletics

While we usually like the A’s, this week they are not our friends

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

White Sox fans have a soft spot for the Oakland A’s. Stomper is cute and we all can relate to having bad owners. Also, the hatred of the Astros unites us all. However, while we love them the rest of the time I’m sorry to announce they’re our enemies for the week.

Speaking with our Senior Mascot Correspondent, she had the following to say about Stomper:

Stomper (Oakland Athletics) “Oh he looks so cute. Is he nice?”

2020 Oakland A’s: 36-24 (first in the AL West)

The A’s started off the season with two walk-off grand slams in the first 11 games of the season, becoming the 17th team in history to hit two walk-off grand slams in the same year and the third to hit two in an 11-game span. The A’s also earned their first AL West title since 2013. Matt Olson reigned supreme in terms of home runs (14) and RBIs (42) for the A’s, while Mark Canha led with 47 hits. And who could forget the wild, bench-clearing brawl between Ramon Laureano and Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, who ended up being suspended for 20 games for the incident.

Barry Zito also released a new song in 2020 for his fans out there. And a teddy bear really should have been paying better attention to the game:

The team had some fun with it:

The A’s and the White Sox met in the AL Wild Card Series, with Oakland falling behind 1-0 before winning the next two and taking a postseason series for the first time since 2006. Unfortunately, they faced the Astros in the ALDS and lost.

2021 manager: Bob Melvin

Bob Melvin has been leading the A’s since 2011, when he joined after serving as manager for the Mariners and Diamondbacks. His career with the A’s has seen him be named Manager of the Year in 2012 and 2018, and has the third-most wins ever (behind Connie Mack and Tony La Russa, naturally). The retirements of Ned Yost and Bruce Bochy going into the 2020 season means Melvin is now baseball’s longest-tenured manager with the same team. He’s also got the best winning percentage in Oakland history, and the team announced in June that he’s sticking around through at least 2022 when they exercised his option.

Melvin’s success has been pretty amazing considering the owners of the A’s run the team like some kind of money-laundering operation.

2021 so far ...

The A’s are currently in second in a very tough AL West. It’s been a battle between them and the Astros all season, and the A’s are sitting only 2 12 games back as of today. Anything can happen between now and the end of the season, and it’s a going to be a tight race to the end. With the Mariners being eight back, the Angels at 12, and the Rangers at 28 12 (!!) the A’s and Astros are running away with things.

Matt Olson is leading the team in literally everything he possibly can: average (.283), home runs (30), RBIs (79), OBP (.378), and hits (115). In terms of pitching, Chris Bassitt is leading in wins (12), ERA (3.06), and strikeouts (153) while Lou Trivino has posted 19 saves to date. The A’s are 12-8 in their last 20 games, and 34-25 on the road. They’re doing very well against Central teams, posting a 16-4 record.

Pitching matchups

Today is going to be Dallas Keuchel vs. Frankie Montas. Keuchel is not having a good season, let’s just say it, with a 4.51 ERA and 7-6 record over 125 23 innings. He’s given up 125 hits, 21 home runs, and 42 walks while striking out 77. Keuchel is 1-4 in his last seven starts over 39 13 innings with a 5.72 ERA. He’s 1-3 in his last five against Oakland, going 32 13 innings and posting a 5.29 ERA. Keuchel hasn’t faced the A’s since August 2018, when he was still a member of the Astros, so we’ll see how this goes.

Former White Sox pitcher Montas is 9-8 this season with a 3.98 ERA over 131 innings, walking 36 and striking out 146 while giving up 16 home runs and 126 hits. In his last seven starts, he’s 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA, striking out 54 while walking 12 over 43 13 innings. Montas relies on four pitches: sinker (31%), 4-seam fastball (29%), split-finger (22%), and slider (19%). He’s posting a 3.30 ERA against lefties and 4.61 against righties. Montas has never faced the White Sox as a starter.

Tuesday will be Reynaldo López vs. Chris Bassitt. Another former White Sox pitcher, Bassitt is 12-3 this season with a 3.06 ERA, going 150 innings and striking out 153 while walking 35. In his last seven starts he’s 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA over 43 13 innings, striking out 44 and walking eight. He’s done pretty well against his former team, going 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA and striking out 21. Bassitt has six pitches in his arsenal: sinker (36%), 4-seam fastball (18%), cutter (17%), slider (10%), changeup (10%), and curveball (6%).

López, meanwhile, is 1-0 this season over 20 innings with a 1.35 ERA. This will be his third start of the season. Against Oakland he’s 1-1 with a 0.98 ERA over 18 13 innings, so there’s hope for him in this start after two no-decisions in his last starts.

Wednesday will be Lance Lynn vs. Cole Irvin. We last saw Lynn in the Field of Dreams game, and this season he’s 10-3 with a 2.26 ERA over 119 23 innings. He’s 3-0 in his last seven starts and 4-0 against Oakland, going 30 23 innings with a 2.05 ERA. As a former member of the Rangers, Lynn is very familiar with Oakland (especially after seeing them so often in 2020 with the weird schedule), so the White Sox will be in good shape here.

Irvin is 8-11 with a 3.52 ERA over 135 13 innings. He’s given up 135 hits and 11 home runs while striking out 96 and walking 25. He’s never faced the White Sox as a starter. In Irvin’s last seven, he’s gone 2-4 with a 3.27 ERA over 41 13 innings. He’s posted 28 strikeouts while walking eight and giving up 27 hits. Irvin relies on five pitches: 4-seam fastball (41%), changeup (23.6%), sinker (19%), slider (14%), and curveball (2%).

Thursday is Dylan Cease against James Kaprielian. Cease is 9-6 this season and 2-2 over his last seven starts. In his last seven starts, he’s posted a 3.82 ERA over 37 23 innings. He’s never faced Oakland as a starter, so we’ll see how this goes.

Kaprielian is 6-4 this season over 39 23 innings with a 3.33 ERA. He’s 2-3 in his last seven games with a 3.86 ERA over 39 23 innings, striking out 37 and walking 10. He’s never faced the White Sox as a starter, so this is the first look for both him and Cease. Kaprielian relies on five pitches: 4-seam fastball (52%), changeup (17%), slider (17.3%), curveball (6.8%), and sinker (6.5%).

Why do we hate them?

Let’s get weird: