Major League Baseball

A’s seek to gain more ground on Astros

mlb4ASTROS (78-45) AT ATHLETICS (70-52)
4:05 p.m. ET; FS1, ATTSN-SW, MLB.TV

The visiting Houston Astros (-1.5) and Oakland Athletics (-1.5) are expected to trot out new looks Saturday afternoon when the American League West front-runners continue their four-game series.

The A’s used seven homers and a walk-off single by Robbie Grossman to trim two games from their 9 1/2-game deficit in two nights with a pair of one-run decisions, 7-6 and 3-2.

Being handed the task of keeping the A’s in the ballpark Saturday in the wake of a 13-inning game in which the Astros used six relievers will be right-hander Rogelio Armenteros (1-0, 1.93 ERA), who will be promoted from Triple-A Round Rock to get the start in place of injured Gerrit Cole.

Armenteros has been a very average pitcher at Triple-A this season, sporting a 5-6 record and a 5.05 ERA. But he’s been tough on major league hitters when given the opportunity.

He’s appeared in four games for the Astros, including a start July 21 against Texas in which he allowed just one run and two hits in five innings.

He’s never faced the A’s, but manager A.J. Hinch thinks they’re a good fit.

“He’s thrown very well,” Hinch said before the Friday game. “Righties (have fared) better than lefties against (the Oakland) lineup, and we think he’s the right option for us.”

Armenteros can expect to see catcher Josh Phegley among the Athletics’ hitters after he’d been on the injured list because of a sore left thumb.

The A’s had been mixing-and-matching Dustin Garneau and Chris Herrmann while Phegley was out of action. That duo combined to go 0-for-6 with a walk and four strikeout in the first two games of the series.

Herrmann, who caught all 13 innings Friday, did play a role in the game-winning uprising, sacrificing Corban Joseph from first to second, from where he scored on Grossman’s game-winner.

After playing Thursday, Garneau was designated for assignment, creating a roster spot for Phegley, who had been eager to get back into the playoff chase.

“I just think this is where we put together our last run, the last month and a half, and I want to be here,” Phegley said Friday. “We got a stretch here where we’ve got to make a push, and this is where it gets exciting, so I’m happy to be back.”

The A’s are scheduled to send right-hander Chris Bassitt (8-5, 3.56 ERA) to the mound on Saturday in pursuit of a fourth consecutive impressive start. The 30-year-old has gone 1-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his past three outings.

Bassitt has gone 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five games (four starts) against the Astros in his career. Two of those head-to-heads came earlier this season, when he lost a 4-2 game at Houston last month after not getting a decision in a 6-3 home loss in June.

Each team has totaled just 16 hits in 22 innings in the first two games of the series. Ten of the Athletics’ hits have been either homers (seven) or doubles (three).

–Field Level Media

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