Athletics

Athletics

It's not exactly breaking news that the Houston Astros are a really good baseball team.

They're relentless at the plate, have pitching depth managers can only dream of, and even blow a train whistle every time the team hits a home run.

"I was busy for the most part this series," Bobby Dynamite, the Astros' "train guy" told NBC Sports California. "If I'm busy, that usually means good things are happening for us. In this case, it was against our top division rival."

Dynamite was one of many who watched the series between these AL West rivals, which ended Wednesday afternoon with the Astros winning 4-2.

Currently, the A's sit 6 1/2 games behind the 'Stros in the AL West, good for second place.

Knowing the Astros will be the Green and Gold's biggest threat in the division -- and a potential playoff matchup -- the A's front office has no choice but to make some moves before the July 31 trade deadline.

NBC Sports California's Ben Ross recently profiled five potential trade targets for the team, and every one of those players is a pitcher. The addition of Homer Bailey to the rotation from the Kansas City Royals has not helped as much as anticipated thus far, but it's still a small sample size.

 

It's too early to tell what the veteran righty is going to be able to do for Oakland, but the team needs the pitching assistance, regardless. They could use extra arms not only for the stretch toward the postseason, but also to eat up some time as we wait for some of the younger arms to be promoted.

And speaking of the young arms, there remains some good news coming from two high-profile lefties.

A.J. Puk made his Triple-A debut Tuesday night during a rehab assignment following Tommy John surgery where he got the win and left quite the impression.

Across two frames, the 6-foot-7 pitcher had two strikeouts and gave up just one hit.

Sean Manaea also will be making his debut for Las Vegas in his comeback from surgery. He will have a 75-pitch limit in his start Wednesday night against the Padres' Triple-A affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas.

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But for now, Bob Melvin isn't sweating what the team's going through too much.

"We're fine -- there's a lot of baseball left," the A's skipper said to reporters following the loss.

A lot of baseball would be easier to play if there's more pitching depth.

Just ask the Astros ...