|Greinke hopes to snap Astros out of funk vs. A's|
Newcomer Zack Greinke hopes to continue a personal winning streak while ending his team's skid when the right-hander leads the visiting Houston Astros up against the Oakland Athletics in the finale of a four-game series on Sunday afternoon.
The A's have used a variety of means to sweep the first three games of the series, riding five home runs to a 7-6 victory on Thursday night, extra-inning small-ball to pull out a 3-2 win Friday, and station-to-station hitting to grind out an 8-4 triumph on Saturday.
With four straight wins, coupled with Houston's five consecutive losses, the second-place A's (71-52) have closed within 6 1/2 games of the first-place Astros (78-46) in the American League West.
Greinke (12-4, 2.91 ERA) will be asked to pick up the pieces after the A's tortured Astros rookie Rogelio Armenteros and reliever Chris Devenski for eight hits -- all singles -- and eight runs in the third and fifth innings alone in Saturday's win.
The 35-year-old Greinke has turned in two strong outings since joining the Astros in a trade. He has also pitched brilliantly against the A's, especially in Oakland, and in the San Francisco Bay Area in general in his long career.
Greinke has gone 6-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 16 appearances (12 starts) against the A's, including 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 10 games (seven starts) in Oakland. Coupled with a 6-0 record in San Francisco against the Giants, Greinke has gone 9-1 in 18 San Francisco Bay Area appearances.
He will be matched up Sunday with A's left-hander Brett Anderson (10-8, 3.95 ERA), who hasn't had much success against the Astros in his career, going 1-4 with a 6.58 ERA in six games (five starts).
One of those losses came at home on June 1, when he allowed a two-run home run to Josh Reddick in a 5-1 defeat. He was charged with three of the runs in 5 1/3 innings.
It's possible Anderson won't see Reddick in the rematch. The former A's outfielder was benched Saturday after having gone 1-for-8 in the first two games of the series and 3-for-23 on the Astros' current road trip.
He hasn't homered since June 28.
"I keep encouraging him to find his best swing and find a way to contribute," Astros manager AJ Hinch explained of Reddick's slump. "He hit a couple of balls pretty well (Friday night). He hasn't gotten a ton of luck.
"We do need production out of him. Our best team has a really tough bottom of the order, and that includes Josh Reddick. We've got to get him underway."
The A's took a similar approach to reliever Lou Trivino's troubles, and it paid dividends in Friday's win, when the right-hander responded to an eight-day shutdown by working a season-high three innings to earn a win in the 13-inning affair.
He didn't pitch Saturday and probably won't be available in the series finale, but his lengthy effort Friday allowed the A's to give closer Liam Hendriks a break.
Hendriks wasn't needed in Saturday's win, making him fresh for Sunday's game.
"It was a big night for a lot of guys, and maybe some guys who were struggling a little bit really emerged," A's manager Bob Melvin said, referring in part to Trivino, after Friday's win. "We saw the type of stuff that we saw last year. So hats off."
--Field Level Media