A's tweak the lineup - Should Carter start vs. RHP?

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A's tweak the lineup - Should Carter start vs. RHP?

At 7-1 the Oakland Athletics have the best record in MLB in July. They are over .500 at 44-43 and currently 1.5 games behind for the second Wild Card spot. As the trade deadline approaches, the A's players have to prove they can continue to play at this level or risk being slapped with the dreaded label of "sellers." A's 44-43 lineupJemile Weeks, 2B
Seth Smith, LF
Josh Reddick, CF
Yoenis Cespedes, DH
Brandon Moss, RF
Chris Carter, 1B
Brandon Inge, 3B
Cliff Pennington, SS
Kurt Suzuki, C
Instant AnalysisChris Carter and Brandon Moss are in the starting lineup together for the first time. This is something that I have been lobbying for on Twitter, TV and Radio. Up until now Carter and Moss have been platooned, but two of Carter's three homers have come off right-handed pitchers. He is 4 for 6 (.667) with two home runs and four RBI against righties this year. Seems silly to start him exclusively against lefties. With Carter and Moss in the lineup I'd like to see one of them used as DH. Right now Yoenis Cespedes is occupying that spot because he is recovering from a left thumb sprain. Moss is capable of playing the outfield and has played 122 Major League games in right field. Keep an eye on the A's outfield defense though because Josh Reddick has had some struggles in center field this year. Top of the orderJemile Weeks moves up to the leadoff spot with Coco Crisp nursing a sore shoulder. Seth Smith takes over the second spot in the order. Smith is a great fit in that part of the lineup. He is seventh in the AL with a 13.6 walk percentage. He is a patient hitter that averaged 4.04 pitchers per plate appearance. Heart of the orderCespedes' swing looked good on Friday, even after spraining his left thumb on Sunday. He went 2-for-3, and reached base and scored after Denard Span dropped a fly ball that he hit to center field. Bottom of the orderBrandon Inge, Cliff Pennington, and Kurt Suzuki are all under pressure to perform. Maybe batting them 7-8-9 will defer some of the attention they are getting for their recent struggles. Inge has 28 strikeouts in his last 23 games. Suzuki is hitting .211 and Pennington is hitting .206. Minnesota Twins (36-50) lineupDenard Span, CF
Ben Revere, RF
Joe Mauer, C
Josh Willingham, LF
Justin Morneau, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Ryan Doumit, DH
Brian Dozier, SS
Jamey Carroll, 2B
Twins analysisFormer A's outfielder Josh Willingham has four home runs with 10 RBI in four games against the A's this season.

A's lineup: Healy to DH, Plouffe back on the hot corner vs Astros

A's lineup: Healy to DH, Plouffe back on the hot corner vs Astros

Bob Melvin is making no changes to his lineup in Game 1 against the Astros, but the manager did make one defensive change.

Oakland A's (10-12)

1. Jaff Decker (L) CF
2. Matt Joyce (L) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) DH
7. Stephen Vogt (L) C
8. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Jharel Cotton -- RHP

Houston Astros (14-8)

1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Josh Reddick (L) RF
3. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
4. Carlos Correa (R) SS
5. Carlos Beltran (S) DH
6. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
7. Evan Gattis (R) C
8. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
9. Norichika Aoki (L) LF
Charlie Morton -- RHP

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

ANAHEIM — The A’s collection of individual highlights during their visit to Angel Stadium shouldn’t have equated to a three-game sweep for their opponent.

Jesse Hahn fired eight one-hit innings Tuesday, the same night Josh Phegley delivered a pinch-hit homer in the 10th before the A’s lost in 11 innings. On Thursday, Kendall Graveman turned in perhaps the defensive play of the 2017 season by a pitcher, recording an unassisted double play that was the first by an A’s pitcher in 46 years.

All great moments to relive in the clubhouse afterward, but surely they ring a bit hollow given the final outcomes. The A’s were swept by an Angels team that, like Oakland, has been hit hard by the injury bug. Los Angeles is without key relievers Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin, not to mention starter Garrett Richards among others.

Yet the Angels pitching staff twice held the A’s to one run over the three-game series, including Thursday’s 2-1 defeat, when the A’s mustered just three hits.

“We’re a little streaky right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… Give them credit, they pitched really well, and they really are down a lot of guys in the bullpen. We would expect to do a little more damage.”

They couldn’t Thursday, and that it made it tough to savor Graveman’s incredible play the way they should have.

With runners on the corners and no outs, he fielded Juan Graterol’s comebacker and caught Ben Revere in a rundown between third and home. Graveman ran him down and after applying the tag, hurdled Revere and made the tag on Cliff Pennington, who was trying to advance from first to third in the chaos.

“That’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make, hurdling over an (opponent) to get the second out unassisted,” Melvin said. “I didn’t even know how to put that one down on my card.”

Graveman, one of the A’s better overall athletes, was asked if he’d ever recorded an unassisted double play before.

“Never. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one,” he said. “(Ryan) Madson said he’s never seen one and he’s watched over 2,000 games.”

Incredibly, the last A’s pitcher to pull off an unassisted double play previously was in attendance Thursday night. John “Blue Moon” Odom did it back on July 11, 1971, also against the Angels. Odom attends most of the A’s games in Anaheim, and he’s struck up a friendship with Graveman over the years.

“Every time we come here and even in spring training, I try to catch up with Blue Moon Odom and see how he’s doing,” Graveman said. “He and Wash (former A’s infield coach Ron Washington) are friends so we always cut up about Wash. He’s a great guy. He sits in the front row. He came in and saw me right before stretch and told me ‘I’m gonna be front row watching you.’ That is pretty neat that that happened.”

A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso said he’s never surprised to see Graveman make a great defensive play.

“The guy’s a pitcher, but it feels like he’s a shortstop playing the position.”

Graveman was visited by trainers after the fifth-inning play, but Melvin said it was mainly to give the pitcher a breather and let him get his adrenaline under control. Neither Graveman nor his manager revealed anything specific that bothered Graveman. Seeing him stay in the game and complete six innings of two-run ball had to be encouraging for Melvin.

“The first thing I asked him was ‘What’d you fall on?’” Melvin said. “He said, ‘My butt.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re all right then.’ But you’re not gonna see that play again probably.”

The A’s are giving their manager and fans some accomplishments to marvel over. As they move on to Houston trying to halt a four-game losing streak, they just need to figure things out on the scoreboard.