The two will share the field for the first time as opposing managers Friday. With Mike Fiers blowing the whistle on the Houston Astros (6-6), and with the A’s (9-4) atop early in the AL West, the wait is finally over and these two teams will face each other, unfortunately without any heckling fans in Oakland.
After watching his team lose in the Wild Card and being denied the start for the second season in a row, Fiers came out and told the world the Astros, his former team, had been cheating. Players, fans, all of baseball went ballistic. This may be the biggest rivalry in baseball at the moment and unfortunately, Fiers won’t pitch against the organization he outed after winning a ring with.
When asked this week about not pitching against his former team, Fiers said:
“… it’s really not going to change anything if I start against Houston. I’m going to be the same person. I’ll go out there and make pitches and do exactly what I do. I don’t think there is extra motive against them or any team.”
Melvin said the bomb drop from Fiers feels like almost two years ago after everything that has been going on. He said this is the year they would have gotten a hard time from fans and just wants to beat them:
“The Astros are the team and if were gonna go where we wanna go, that’s the team you have to go through in our division so I think there are a lot of teams that are probably and rightly so upset with them this year but you can’t let that get in the way of going out there and concentrating on what you need to do to win the game and it it gives you motivation then so be it.”
After trading Gerrit Cole to the New York Yankees during the 2019 offseason and with Justin Verlander being injured, the Astros have a lot of rookie pitchers which can be either a huge advantage or disadvantage. The A’s haven’t seen these young guys but need to one plate appearance they may adapt.
“They are still a good team, I’m looking a little bit at how they are playing right now but you look up and down the lineup it’s still the same names, same type of production. Maybe just less of the names in the pitching staff. We will have to really play hard to beat them.”
Melvin said he looks forward to the series coming up. Not just because of the offseason drama, but because of his relationship with Baker. A.J. Hinch was fired after the 2019 season when news broke out that he was aware of the cheating and did nothing. Baker was a hitting coach for Melvin when the A’s manager played for the Giants back in the day. The two know each other very well:
“He has been a resource for me, he has been a father figure for me in this games as far as managing. We talk, we talked this year already a couple times so yes, I will always look forward to seeing him. I don’t necessarily enjoy managing against him cause he has such great success, I think it is what, two-thousand wins, I don’t know how many managers of the years, but yes Dusty is one of the great one’s and respected by everyone in the game.”
Melvin was happy to see Baker get another opportunity and believed he deserves it and is the right man for the job after everything they have been through. Melvin ultimately called Baker a GOAT and knows the players will love him just like they all have in the past.
Melvin said it will take some time for him to form an opinion on how he looks in that Astros jersey but knows Baker was a great choice.