One day after protesting against social inequality and systemic racism in the U.S. by opting not to play against the Texas Rangers, the Oakland A’s will be back on the field Friday.
They’ve moved south to Houston, where the three-time defending American League West champion Astros will host the A’s for three games just after Hurricane Laura passed by.
Oakland swept three games against Houston in the Coliseum Aug. 7-9, and the Aug. 9 Sunday game has a dugouts-clearing brawl that wound up seeing the A’s Ramón Laureano hit with a six-game suspension that was reduced to four games on appeal.
“It’ll be normal; we’re just going out there trying to win three games,” Laureano said.
Mike Fiers, who pitched for the Astros in 2017 and who is deeply unpopular with Houston fans after having outed the Astros sign-stealing that year that ultimately led to a $5 million fine for the franchise, the loss of draft choices for two years and the firings of MG Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch, won’t be pitching in the series, having thrown Wednesday.
Fiers said he doesn’t see the brawling that marked the Sept. 9 game carrying over, that there is serious baseball to be played.
“I don’t think that the extra tension had anything to do with what was going on in the past,” Fiers said. “It was just two guys, a day game thing that just got out of hand. Being competitive is all that it was, and it has nothing to do with the history.
“They’ve always been one of the best teams in this division. Right now, they’re right behind us, so it’s definitely important. But it’s important for us to keep that momentum going. We swept them at home, and it’s just about taking that same attitude, that same competitiveness and playing this weekend. Not trying to make it anything bigger, but just play out baseball and try to get one every night.”
Manager Bob Melvin put the series in perspective.
“You know what – until they’re not the division champions, they are,” Melvin said. “I was looking at some numbers today and they lead the league in runs scored and RBI. They are healthier; they only guy they’re missing is (Alex) Bregman everybody’s back in the lineup, and it’s a stacked lineup.
“So until you actually get through a season and win the division, they are still the Western Division champions, so there’s a lot more work left to do.”
One result of Thursday’s game not being play is that Fiers, is now scheduled to face the Astros when Houston comes to Oakland Sept. 7-10. On the original schedule, he would have pitched the day before and the day after the Astros series.
“I think I’m going to wind up pitching against them the next time at home,” he said. “But it’s not about the team I’m pitching against. It’s just getting ready every fifth day and making sure I’m ready and not worrying about who I’m pitching against.”
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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