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Preview
Oakland at Houston
When: 8:10 PM ET, Monday, August 29, 2016
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas

The Oakland Athletics suddenly have the look of a team that might relish playing the spoiler down the stretch. The Athletics will try their hand at another playoff contender when they open a three-game series at the Houston Astros on Monday.

Oakland, which is closing in on its second straight losing season, has taken two of three from American League Central-leading Cleveland and NL wild card hopeful St. Louis in the past week, finishing off the Cardinals with a 7-4 triumph Sunday afternoon. Khris Davis homered for the seventh time in 15 games and Stephen Vogt slugged a three-run shot to pace Oakland, which also won two of three the last time it faced the Astros. Houston had won three in a row and seven of eight before dropping a 10-4 decision against Tampa Bay on Sunday. The loss left the Astros three games back in the race for the AL's second wild card.

TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, CSN California (Oakland), ROOT (Houston)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics LH Sean Manaea (5-8, 4.53 ERA) vs. Astros RH Joe Musgrove (1-2, 5.20)

Manaea shined in a win over Cleveland on Tuesday, allowing one run and a season low-tying three hits while fanning eight over seven innings. The one run came on a home run and the 24-year-old has allowed eight of those in his last six outings. Manaea's major-league debut came against the Astros on April 29 and he allowed four runs in five innings, but the former first-round pick rebounded to spin seven scoreless in a no-decision at Houston on July 10.

After allowing three runs in 18 1/3 innings over his first three career starts, Musgrove has been pounded for 13 runs and 19 hits over 9 1/3 frames in his last two appearances. He also has just four strikeouts in those rocky outings after producing 21 over the course of the first three. The California native has managed to maintain his control with just three walks in 27 2/3 innings overall.

WALK-OFFS

1. Astros 3B Alex Bregman is hitting .353 over his last 12 games.

2. Houston RHP Luke Gregerson (ankle) hasn't pitched since Aug. 18 but could be available in this series, according to manager A.J. Hinch.

3. Oakland is 22-20 in the first game of a series but 35-53 in all other contests.

PREDICTION: Astros 5, Athletics 4
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Oakland 57-73 W2 30-36 27-37 15-15 13-16 22-29 7-13
Houston 68-62 L1 36-29 32-33 15-18 15-14 28-23 10-7
Last Meeting
Oakland Houston
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
7/20/16 HOU 7 OAK 0 .129 0 .343 .263 0 .799
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Oakland S. Vogt .405 17 1.135
Houston E. Gattis .316 12 1.093
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Oakland M. Semien 3 6 6
Houston E. Gattis 4 5 10
Pitching ERA Avg K
Oakland 4.11 .247 114
Houston 3.33 .238 103
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Oakland D. Valencia .303 114 .830
Houston J. Altuve .355 182 .981
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Oakland K. Davis 34 70 85
Houston G. Springer 25 96 72
Pitching ERA Avg K
Oakland 4.52 .249 958
Houston 3.99 .247 1125