OAKLAND, Calif. — Right-hander Liam Hendriks gets another opportunity to convince the Oakland Athletics to take “bullpenning” into the postseason when he opens a six-game homestand Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels.
The A’s will enter the final 13 days (12 games) of the regular season with a chance to capture the American League West or a wild-card playoff spot in the AL.
Despite coming off a disappointing 3-3 trip against Baltimore and Tampa Bay, a pair of sub-.500 teams from the AL East, Oakland (90-60) will take the field Tuesday just 1 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees (91-58) in the race for the first wild-card spot in the AL.
The Yankees, who own the tie-breaker over the A’s, host the Boston Red Sox in a three-game series starting Tuesday.
The Houston Astros (94-55) took a 4 1/2-game lead over the A’s atop the AL West into their series opener at home against Seattle on Monday night.
Hendriks (0-1, 5.60) has served as Oakland’s “opener” five times this month and has allowed runs on just one occasion. But the A’s have lost three of the five games, including his most recent start, 7-5 at Tampa Bay on Saturday.
The 2-3 team record in Hendriks’ starts hasn’t necessarily been his fault. He’s allowed just two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings in those games, and the two runs came the only time he was allowed to begin a second inning Sept. 1 against Seattle.
Meanwhile, Oakland’s normally reliable bullpen has been roughed up for 21 earned runs and 33 hits in 38 1/3 innings in those games, numbers that would look a lot worse if you threw out the eighth scoreless, hitless innings at Baltimore last Wednesday.
Hendriks has faced the Angels 27 times in his career, just once as a starter, and compiled a 1-2 record with a 3.86 ERA.
Hendriks is scheduled to be opposed by Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs (8-8, 3.78), who is expected to be reinstated from the disabled list prior to the game. The left-hander has been out with a groin strain.
Skaggs was last seen struggling through a poor effort at home against the A’s on Aug. 11, when he was bombed for seven runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings in a 7-0 loss.
Davis has since added nine more to match his career-high and take the major league lead with 43. He’s hit two in 13 career at-bats against Skaggs, who has gone just 2-5 with a 5.32 ERA in eight career starts against Oakland.
The Angels also expect Shohei Ohtani in the lineup Tuesday after he turned his ankle on a slide into second base late in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Seattle.
The same won’t be true for David Fletcher, who suffered a serious hamstring injury in the game and likely will be shut down for the rest of the season.
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