The A’s dropping the first game of a postseason series is certainly an unenviable predicament, but it’s nothing they haven’t been able to overcome before.
Oakland’s resilient group managed to overcome a loss in Game 1 against the White Sox on Sept. 29 in a best-of-three American League Wild Card Series, winning the next two games. A similar situation has presented itself after the Astros defeated the A’s, 10-5, in Game 1 of the AL Division Series at Dodger Stadium on Monday.
Sean Manaea is tasked with getting the A’s back on track in Game 2. The left-hander is looking for redemption in his second career postseason start after a disappointing effort in a loss to the Rays in last year’s AL Wild Card Game. Meanwhile, the Astros will look to grab a stronghold on the series by sending lefty Framber Valdez -- who picked up a win pitching out of Houston’s bullpen in Game 1 of its Wild Card Series against the Twins -- to the mound.
And history is on Houston’s side: In 30 of the last 40 best-of-five Division Series, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to advance.
“We’re not by any means panicking or anything like that,” A’s starter Chris Bassitt said after Game 1. “Just win tomorrow. Play our game and don’t really worry about the extra stuff. Just stick to the script.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
The game will be shown on TBS at 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 CT/1:30 PT on Tuesday. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
Who will be the 'home' team?
By virtue of having higher playoff seeding, the A’s batted last in Game 1 and will do so again in Game 2. The Astros will bat last in Game 3 and, if necessary, a potential Game 4. Should the series advance to Game 5, Oakland would be considered the home team for that winner-take-all contest.
What do the starting lineups look like?
Astros: The only tweak Astros manager Dusty Baker has made with his lineup through three games in the playoffs came in Monday’s Game 1 of the ALDS, when he moved Carlos Correa up to the sixth spot in the lineup, jumping ahead of Yuli Gurriel. That worked quite well considering the Astros bashed out 16 hits, including three homers, in a 10-5 win. Baker's official lineup for Game 2 does not stray from that, even against a lefty.
1) George Springer, CF
2) Jose Altuve, 2B
3) Michael Brantley, DH
4) Alex Bregman, 3B
5) Kyle Tucker, LF
6) Carlos Correa, SS
7) Yuli Gurriel, 1B
8) Josh Reddick, RF
9) Martín Maldonado, C
Athletics: After deploying a lineup stacked with left-handers against a right-handed starter in Game 1, the A’s switched it up with more righties against the left-handed Valdez, with Jake Lamb switched out in favor of Chad Pinder. Sean Murphy, who has been swinging a hot bat of late and homered in each of the A’s last two playoff games, was moved up from ninth to sixth in the starting lineup. After sitting out the opener, Stephen Piscotty was in the lineup for Game 2, hitting ninth.
1) Marcus Semien, SS
2) Tommy La Stella, 2B
3) Chad Pinder, 3B
4) Mark Canha, LF
5) Khris Davis, DH
6) Matt Olson, 1B
7) Sean Murphy, C
8) Ramón Laureano, CF
9) Stephen Piscotty, RF
Who are the starting pitchers?
Astros: Valdez, who threw five scoreless innings in relief in a Game 1 AL Wild Card Series win over the Twins, makes his first playoff start. Valdez had a breakout season in which he went 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 11 games (10 starts), leading the club and AL left-handers in innings pitched (70 2/3) and strikeouts (76) with only 16 walks.
Valdez faced the A’s on Aug. 8 in Oakland and held them to two runs (one earned) and seven hits in seven innings while striking out nine batters. He possesses one of the best curveballs in baseball and has taken a huge leap forward this year with improved confidence and focus.
Athletics: Manaea fared well in his only start against Houston this year, taking a perfect game into the sixth before finishing with seven innings of one-run ball on Sept. 10. Manaea finished the regular season strong, posting a 2.65 ERA over his last six starts.
In 13 career starts against the Astros, Manaea is 3-5 with a 3.27 ERA. He’ll be going on 12 days of rest. That could help him reach a higher velocity with his fastball, which averaged 90.1 mph during the regular season.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Astros: Houston relievers covered five innings in the Game 1 win, with Enoli Paredes (two innings) the only arm to throw multiple innings. Still, he threw only 21 pitches and figures to be ready if needed. Blake Taylor threw only 10 pitches and closer Ryan Pressly threw seven, so their usage shouldn’t be an issue. Lefty Brooks Raley warmed up in Game 1 but should be fresh. Luis Garcia, Andre Scrubb and Cy Sneed have yet to throw in the playoffs.
Athletics: The A’s bullpen had a rare implosion in Game 1, but that won’t stop them from calling upon their strong group of relievers that led the Majors with a 2.72 ERA over the regular season. Ideally, Manaea will go five or six quality innings before handing off to the bridge of relievers that usually set it up for closer Liam Hendriks. That group of relief arms includes left-hander Jake Diekman and righties Joakim Soria and J.B. Wendelken. If Manaea finds himself in a jam early, Melvin won’t hesitate to call on Yusmeiro Petit, who has done a great job of wiggling out of situations with runners on base all year.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Astros: The one reliever Baker may choose to stay away from is Cristian Javier, who threw 25 pitches in Game 1 and hasn’t thrown in back-to-back games all season because he’s been a starter.
Athletics: The A’s should have a full complement of bullpen options available. Though they used seven relievers in Game 1, the highest pitch total was Wendelken’s 19.
Any injuries of note?
Athletics: Aside from Matt Chapman, the A’s are fully healthy.
Who is hot and who is not?
Astros: Correa is 6-for-11 with three homers and five RBIs in the playoffs. … Springer is 5-for-14 with two RBIs. … Tucker is 5-for-13. … Bregman is 3-for-11 with a homer in Game 1 of the ALDS. … Altuve is 2-for-11. … Reddick is 1-for-12.
Athletics: Murphy has homered twice this postseason and has reached base safely in each of his last 20 games dating back to Sept. 4. … Semien is 5-for-16 in the playoffs with a double, a home run and two RBIs. … Olson is 1-for-12 in the playoffs, but he picked up his first hit -- a solo homer -- in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Anything else fans want to know?
Astros: Houston relievers have not allowed a run in the 2020 postseason in 14 2/3 innings. … The Astros have won six straight road playoff games, tied for the seventh-longest streak in postseason history.
Athletics: The A’s have now lost eight straight Game 1s of a postseason series dating back to the 2006 AL Championship Series vs. Detroit, tied with the 1995-98 Indians for the second-longest such losing streak in history. The 2001-19 Braves (10 straight Game 1 losses) hold the all-time record.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.