SAN FRANCISCO — Rarely does the Bay Bridge series carry too much weight. The late-season meeting point for this round, though, adds a bit more oomph than in years past.
Symbolically, the first two games act as a check-in point, of sorts. Both Bay Area teams meet at various stages of both likely and unlikely postseason runs, the local battle a test, of sorts, to see who’s for real.
For the A’s, though, this trip across the bridge is a gateway to an absolute gauntlet. Oakland took on Madison Bumgarner and the Giants two games back of Tampa Bay for the second wild card, four games back of the Minnesota Twins for that first spot.
Two games sounds a flat hill to climb, but the schedule makes it steeper; the A’s will have to face the Yankees and Astros a combined 14 times before the season’s end.
Right after San Francisco, the A’s will host the Astros for four games; their record against the AL West foe stands at 2-8. A double-header between the Astros and Chicago White Sox may mean that the A’s won’t have to face Zack Greinke or Gerrit Cole.
But that’s a minor consolation given the next arms up are Justin Verlander and Wade Miley. Against Verlander last month in Houston, the A’s managed an unearned run and struck out 11 times. Matt Olson’s three-run game-winning home run off Roberto Osuna erased Wade Miley’s eight-inning gem the next day, too. It looks more than likely that they’ll face Greinke in the last game of the series, and not Cole.
And that won’t be the last Oakland will see the Astros — the A’s get four more games at Minute Maid Park in September.
The Yankees, who the A’s have yet to face this season, come into the Coliseum hot on the Astros’ heels.
How the A’s fare against two of the best teams in the American League could make or break the team’s postseason path. Other than those 14 games, Oakland will face just two other teams — the Texas Rangers, who play the A’s rivalry tough, and Giants twice more at the Coliseum — with a .500 record or better (as of now).
The other series: Seven games against the Kansas City Royals, five against the LA Angels, four against the Seattle Mariners, and three and three innings against the Detroit Tigers.
Sean Manaea has promising start in Omaha
Manaea struck out 10 batters in 5.2 innings in a rehab start for the Las Vegas Aviators on Tuesday. He threw 80 pitches, which is where he should be consistently at this point. Manaea was shut down last homestand when another side injury flared up.
“By far his best outing since he’s been on rehab, coming off the side thing it was good to see,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Very encouraging for him.”
The team still needs to decide on a next step for Manaea; another start with the Aviators seems likely.
— Josh Phegley also made a rehab appearance for the Aviators, going 1-for-3 with a walk, but he was hit by a pitch on the left shoulder and will be evaluated by the team.
— Ramon Laureano is back on the field taking swings and “doing everything except running,” said Melvin. There is no timetable for his return to his post in center field, and he’s two weeks out from the projected four-week timetable initially projected.
Source: East Bay Tough tests to come for Oakland Athletics in postseason pursuit