OAKLAND -- With the Mets starting a right-hander today in Zack Wheeler, an off-day tomorrow for the As and at least one regular hurting, the As lineup has a different look for todays series finale against New York.
Theres no Josh Donaldson, whom manager Bob Melvin said is getting a day off after playing every game of the recent road trip. "Hes a little tired right now," Melvin said. "So with a day game and the off-day tomorrow, hopefully we can combat that."
Derek Norris is also off, which Melvin said was planned. But Norris is dealing with back tightness as well that hampers him while running, so ideally the consecutive days off will help get Norris ready for this weekends showdown with the Los Angeles Angels.
Melvin said both Donaldson and Norris are likely available off the bench today.
The full As lineup against Wheeler, all left-handed (including three switch-hitters):
And the Mets lineup against Jeff Samardzija:
CF Den Dekker
LF Young, Jr.
* In the seventh inning of the As win on Tuesday night, Eric OFlaherty was brought in with two outs and struck out Curtis Granderson with a runner on base to preserve a two-run lead. It was an example of what Melvin said this morning is his willingness to start using OFlaherty in higher-leverage situations as the left-hander distances himself more and more from his return from Tommy John surgery.
OFlaherty still hasnt been able to pitch on back-to-back days, but Melvin said he thinks "were pretty close" to that. Melvin said hes also comfortable using OFlaherty against both left- and right-handed hitters, as OFlaherty has shown he can get both out.
"I think each time he goes out in a situation like he did last night and has success it makes him feel that much more removed from the surgery," Melvin said. "Hes just more like an everyday player, and hes used to pitching late in games, so its good to see."
* While it behooves the As not to look past todays game against the Mets, much of the anticipation -- and some questions posed to Melvin before todays game -- were about this weekends series against the Angels, which features the teams with the majors two best records.
Melvin pointed out the As and Angels still play each other 10 times down the stretch, the upcoming series included, so this weekend wont decide anything. But he acknowledged its probably going to be a playoff-type atmosphere at the Coliseum and the As conceded as much by lining up their top three starters to pitch in the series.
"Theyre one of the best teams in baseball, and we know were going to have some, to an extent, emotional games against them," Melvin said of the Angels, whom the As trail by a half-game at the start of play today. "The closer you get to the finish line, when you play a team that youre close to in the standings and youre going to fight for theres going to be that much more importance on each one of these games."
* Samardzija will try to continue his success at the Coliseum, where hes 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA and .209 opponents average in five starts since joining the As. He hasnt fared all that well over his career against the Mets, though. In eight career appearances, only two of them starts, hes 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in 18 innings.