Philadelphia welcomes Oakland to town for weekend series

Oakland is riding a bit of a streak thanks to Khris Davis.
Much has been made, rightfully so, of the improved play over the past month of the Phillies. Their opponent this weekend, the Oakland Athletics, have also been seeing improved results over the last week or so.

The A’s are buried in last place in the American League West Division. Their 64-82 record is better than just six teams in all Major League Baseball, the Phillies included.

However, Oakland has won six of their last eight ball games. The A’s rode a five-game winning streak into Boston this week, where they took one of the three games from the AL East leaders at Fenway Park.

Again, like the Phillies own improvement, it has been some dramatically increased offensive production upon which Oakland’s recent winning has been built.

The A’s swept a four-game series at home against the division-leading Houston Astros last weekend. They scored 41 runs in doing so, included putting up 11 runs in both ends of a Saturday doubleheader.

Left fielder Khris Davis has been the biggest bat in the Oakland lineup. In September, Davis is hitting for a .333/.417/.619 slash line with three home runs and 11 RBI. He has followed up last season’s 42 homer-102 RBI performance by going deep 39 times in 2017, already equaling that 102 RBI output of a year ago.

Oakland skipper Bob Melvin fills out his lineup with another handful of sluggers as well. First baseman Matt Olson may be the most powerful of the bunch. He is basically the Athletics counter-part to what Rhys Hoskins has been doing for the Phillies.


The 23-year old Olson had a 2016 cup of coffee with the A’s, and then saw scattered action earlier in the 2017 season. He took over the everyday first base job on August 8, around the same time that Hoskins was breaking into the Phils’ lineup.

All Olson has done since then is hit for a .295/.378/.705 slash with 14 homers, 27 RBI, and 20 runs scored in 119 plate appearances over 31 games.

Oakland also has three more hitters available who will each show 20+ home runs on the back of their baseball card for the 2017 season. DH Ryon Healy (25), right fielder Matt Joyce (23), and 1B Yonder Alonso (22) have all passed that mark.

The A’s also are playing a rookie third baseman, 24-year old Matt Chapman, who didn’t take over that starting role at the hot corner until July 3. Chapman has clubbed a dozen homers and 18 doubles in what amounts to roughly a half-season of work.

Following the sweep over Houston, Melvin was quoted by Karl Buscheck with The San Francisco Examiner: “I mean, Olson, I’m still trying to come up with some adjectives for what he’s done. But they do feed off each other. These guys really, really play for each other. They support each other and they pull for each other really hard. There’s a lot of real unity in the dugout, in the clubhouse that maybe we haven’t seen here in awhile because it is a group of guys that have played and there’s something to that.”

Phillies pitching has their work cut out for them this weekend in keeping the ball in the yard down at Citizens Bank Park. In fact, that will be one of the biggest keys to the Phils’ winning games in this series.

That task will largely fall to starting pitchers Mark Leiter, Ben Lively, and Henderson Alvarez. The latter will be making his first big league appearance since making four starts for the Miami Marlins back in 2015.

The Athletics have right-handers Daniel Mengden and Kendall Graveman, and lefty Sean Manaea set to take the bump. The 25-year old Manaea is the best that the Athletics have on the mound.
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Follow Matthew on Twitter: @MatthewVeasey
BY MATTHEW VEASEY
Contributing Writer
matthew.veasey@verizon.net

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