Fortunes have flipped since last Padres-A’s matchup
OAKLAND, Calif. — Two teams that began heading in opposite directions at just about the time they saw each other last month hook up again when the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics open a two-game interleague series Tuesday night.
The Padres were within arm’s length of .500 at 34-40, having won nine of 15, when the A’s ventured into San Diego and used a ninth-inning, two-out, two-strike, game-tying home run from Stephen Piscotty off relief ace Brad Hand to trigger a two-game sweep, winning 4-2 and 12-4.
The Padres now head north well out of contention in the National League West, having lost 11 of 14.
The A’s, meanwhile, have won 12 of 15 to surge well above .500 at 46-39 and into contention in the American League wild-card race.
Oakland has made much of its recent run without standout third baseman Matt Chapman, who has taken time off to allow pain in his right hand to subside.
Two cortisone shots later, Chapman had a pain-free hitting session Sunday and was sent to Class A for an injury-rehab game Monday.
It’s possible he could be reinstated from the disabled list during this series.
“He hit a few off the back wall in center field, so that tells me enough,” A’s manager Bob Melvin observed Sunday. “Getting him back in the lineup will be a nice little kick for us.”
The A’s need no such boost in their pitching. They have allowed two or fewer runs in four of their last five games.
Right-hander Chris Bassitt (1-3, 2.82 ERA) will look to extend that impressive run while at the same time taste his first career success in interleague play.
The 29-year-old began the A’s recent pitching showcase with six innings of two-hit, scoreless ball in a 3-0 win at Detroit last Wednesday.
He has never faced the Padres in his career, and has lost both interleague starts despite a 2.45 ERA.
One intriguing potential matchup in the series is A’s closer Blake Treinen against Padres slugger Eric Hosmer, a pairing that carried a bit of history into a game-ending showdown in the A’s earlier 4-2 win in San Diego.
Then a member of the Kansas City Royals, Hosmer bombed a two-run, go-ahead homer off Treinen in the eighth inning of their first career head-to-head last August.
Treinen then extracted a measure of revenge in the June 19 rematch in San Diego, closing out the 10-inning game by striking out Hosmer as he represented the potential tying run.
Bassitt will be opposed by left-hander Clayton Richard (7-7, 4.29), who had a four-game winning streak stopped in a 5-2 loss at Texas last Wednesday.
He retains a good interleague record (9-5, 3.50) despite not having beaten an American League opponent since 2015.
You have to go back three years before that to find his last appearance against the A’s in Oakland, but it was a memorable one. He shut out a playoff-bound A’s team for 7 2/3 innings in 2012, allowing five hits in a 2-1 win.
He has faced the A’s three times in his career, twice as a starter, and gone 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA.
One A’s hitter that Richard will have to deal with is the aforementioned Piscotty, who played last season for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Piscotty has dominated the head-to-heads, going 3-for-4 with a home run and a flyout to deep center field in the only non-hit of the matchup.
A’s catcher Jonathan Lucroy, another former National Leaguer, also has a successful history against Richard, going 7-for-18 (.389) with two doubles and a homer.