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Morning Mound Visit: A’s on the brink of elimination

The Astros are inevitable.

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MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

After winning their first postseason series since 2006, the Oakland A’s are now just one game away from starting a new losing streak. The Houston Astros took the first two games of the five-game series with multi-homer games from Carlos Correa and George Springer.

Not even the revitalization of Khris Davis has been enough to keep the A’s above water. The perennial .247 hitter is coming off consecutive seasons with an 81 wRC+, but in the first two games of the series, Davis has homered. He’s nothing if not consistent. The problem is that as hot as Davis has been, the Astros have been even hotter.

A’s starters haven’t been able to contain the Astros. Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea combined for 8 13 innings while allowing a combined 7 runs on 14 hits. At the time of writing, it hasn’t been announced who will take the mound to open Game Three, but one would assume Jesús Luzardo will be counted on for several innings if he doesn’t make the start. Luzardo hasn’t made an appearance in the series thus far, and the 23-year-old has arguably been the second-best starter on the team.

Liam Hendriks, who was put to work in the Wild Card series versus the White Sox, also hasn’t thrown a pitch in the Divisional Round. Bob Melvin can’t afford to let this series slip away without getting his most-reliable arm on the bump.

The A’s, who ran away with the West, are just one game away from handing the 29-31 Astros a spot in the ALCS. An Astros/Marlins World Series would be the most 2020 outcome, but there’s still a chance the A’s can derail this cruel destiny.

David Appelman | FanGraphs: Every sports publication has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but few offer such indispensable resources and insightful commentary as FanGraphs does. If you have the means, please consider becoming a member.

Sam Miller | ESPN: Sam Miller took Kurt Vonnegut’s shapes of stories idea and applied it to the different types of postseason games.

Evan Drellich | The Athletic $: MLB will be selling a limited number of tickets to the NLCS and World Series despite the fact that COVID-19 cases in Arlington, where the games will be played, are on the rise.