It’s win or go home in Oakland! Both the A’s and White Sox will start a right-handed, Florida-native pitcher after each team earned their wins against a lefty starter.
The Oakland A’s will put all their faith in veteran right-hander Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.58 ERA) for the final game of the Wild Card series. Fiers has been passed over for the role in four games over the past three seasons and will finally get a chance to prove the job belonged to him when he watched his team lose Wild Card games year after year.
Manager Bob Melvin said Fiers was a fun call for him to make and he was happy to finally reward the 35-year-old. Melvin spoke about what led to their decision:
“Well, a lot went into it. Obviously the first night, numbers against lefty’s all of the above. Mike has had some good games against these guys although be it not exactly the same line up so thats why we wanted to wait to see. We felt good about Jesús [Luzardo] in the first game and thought he was a little bit different lefty then they had seen but they had a pretty good approach off him so came to the decision to start Mike.”
Jake Diekman, whose ninth-inning save under duress Wednesday is the reason Oakland is even playing today, had some words about how his team feels this morning:
“It’s good. We just said in the locker room it’s basically like a Wild Card game now but I mean Mike has been doing it all year. The clubhouse we are feeling good right now, we are playing some very loud music at 9 a.m. in the morning so yeah we are good.”
The team continues to preach that they are going out there and treating it like a normal game. Ramon Laureano spoke about the teams mindset:
“Everyone is feeling the same. We don’t get caught up on any of this stuff with elimination games and stuff. Everyone is pretty loose in the clubhouse just like they always are and it’s just another game for us.”
The White Sox will start rookie Dane Dunning (2-0, 3.97 ERA) who made his Major League debut just 43 days ago on Aug. 19. He has had seven starts this season and in 34 innings has 35 strikeouts. The White Sox will likely look to use their bullpen Wednesday.
Laureano spoke on what needs to be done to offensively:
“Stay locked in, fight for your life every single pitch and help the team win… I know they are going to have the whole bullpen and every pitcher they have available throwing today for sure.”
Frankie Montas pitched 113 pitches on Sunday and was not an option to start Game 3, but Melvin said he will be available in the bullpen:
“It’s one day short for him. He is the guy that probably has the most resilient arm, on his bullpen day, a day after, he is always throwing the hardest of any of our guys going through just a normal bullpen so yes he will be available today.”
Liam Hendriks pitched 49 pitches yesterday trying to record the final six outs of the game. Melvin sounded confident yesterday he would be able to pitch today but wouldn’t confirm his availability before the game.
Khris Davis is back in the lineup for the final game of the series and, perhaps, the season. Melvin spoke on the decision to have him in the line up against a left-handed pitcher:
“It wasn’t hard for me to put him in there today either. You have to go on certain games on what you consider to be your top guys and he has been working really hard, he has had a good month. He was extremely fired up for yesterday’s game, there was a look in his eyes of real determination yesterday so it wasn’t that tough today.”
Melvin said the White Sox will be using their bullpen to get through this final game and wanted the lineup to be pretty split up knowing they will be seeing both righties and lefties all day. Stephen Piscotty will be out of the line up and Melvin said that was a tough decision.
The A’s earned home field in this Wild Card series and each game has started at noon. Diekman had an opinion to get off his chest before the final game started:
“I think that is horse shit. I am sorry but we are the second seed and we play three noon games in a row … I think we are prob used to it by now but hey, do I think its fair, not really. Do I think it stinks? Yeah, a little bit. But that’s the time slot we had. If we want better time slots we win today and we are basically guaranteed that.”
The White Sox will use Eloy Jimenez as designated hitter for the final game. He has yet to play in the series and could be a game-altering factor for Thursday. He is a weapon at the plate with 14 homers this season which is tied with gold-glove first baseman Matt Olson, but Olson has been struggling at the plate the past couple of weeks and will need to really shine in the final game of the series.
That has been the teams agenda this series and we will soon know who will advance to Los Angeles to play the Houston Astros on Monday.
The winner of this game advances to Los Angeles to play the Houston Astros Monday.
Fiers has a 19-5 career record with the A’s in home games.