Athletics

A's vs. Angels lineups: Matt Chapman looks to stay hot vs. Los Angeles

A's vs. Angels lineups: Matt Chapman looks to stay hot vs. Los Angeles

OAKLAND — If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's the strategy Oakland manager Bob Melvin is going with.

The A's will start the exact same lineup as Monday as they take aim at their 11th consecutive win. Oakland did make one defensive change, as Stephen Piscotty returns to right field and Mark Canha will serve as the designated hitter.

Piscotty has reached base in 23 straight games, matching the longest streak of his career. It is also the longest active streak in baseball.

Meanwhile, Matt Chapman has homered in three consecutive games for the second time in his career. The A's third baseman will once again bat third.

Right-hander Frankie Montas will be on the mound for the Oakland, looking for his seventh win of the season against just two losses. The 26-year-old enters Tuesday's game with a 2.40 ERA, the fourth-best in MLB among qualified starters. Montas is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four career appearances against the Angels, including one start.

The Angels will utilize the opener strategy, as Cam Bedrosian gets the start. Right-hander Nick Tropeano will follow. The 28-year-old is making his first appearance of the season after dealing with a shoulder injury. In three career starts against the A's, Tropeano is a perfect 3-0 with a 0.51 ERA.

Earlier Tuesday, Oakland announced a pair of roster moves. The A's released veteran right-hander Fernando Rodney just three days after designating him for assignment. They also reinstated outfielder Nick Martini from the 10-day injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Angels game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and streaming on the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 7:07.

Los Angeles Angels (24-29)
Tommy La Stella, 3B
Mike Trout, CF
Shohei Ohtani, DH
Albert Pujols, 1B
Kole Calhoun, RF
Jonathan Lucroy, C
Brian Goodwin, LF
Luis Rengifo, 2B
David Fletcher, SS 

Cam Bedrosian, RHP (1-3, 2.96 ERA)

Oakland A's (29-25)
Marcus Semien, SS
Robbie Grossman, LF
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Stephen Piscotty, RF
Mark Canha, DH
Jurickson Profar, 2B 
Ramón Laureano, CF 
Josh Phegley, C

Frankie Montas, RHP (6-2, 2.40 ERA)

A's continue to be incredible second-half team as MLB playoff spot nears

A's continue to be incredible second-half team as MLB playoff spot nears

OAKLAND -- It's really quite incredible how closely the A's last two seasons have mirrored one another.

In 2018, Oakland got off to a sluggish 34-36 start through 70 games, only to finish the season 97-65. This year, the A's found themselves in a similar position at 34-34. Since then, they have gone 57-27 to put themselves in prime playoff position once again. So what is it that has made the A's such a great second-half team?

"It really is hard to say," third baseman Matt Chapman said. "I think at the beginning of the year, there's just a lot of different pieces -- maybe some guys going up and down, guys not knowing their roles right away, maybe certain guys trying certain things. Once we get into a groove, I feel like we kind of find our niche and we stick with it. And it's a long season. A lot of other teams start off really hot and then they kind of cool off. ... It is a marathon, not a sprint."

The familiarty of last year's run also has conttributed to the surge this season.

"I think there's no panic," Mark Canha said. "We were able to do it last year somehow. We knew at the beginning of this year when we didn't come out of the gates roaring just to kind of hang in there and we're definitely more than capable of turning this thing around. It's just a belief and confidence that lets us kind of do what we do."

But it's not just the last two years where the A's have found second-half success. In 2012, Oakland went just 39-42 in the first half of the season. They followed that up with a 53-28 record in the second half, winning the final six games of the regular season to claim the AL West title.

"It's not how you start, it's more how you finish and how you play in the second half," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "That's the great thing about a 162-game season. Usually, the talent level takes over at some point in time. You kind of are who you are. Your record indicates what kind of team you really are and it usually plays out at the end."

Last season's experience certainly has helped the A's from a mental standpoint this year. The entire team remained calm and level-headed throughout their early-season struggles, never doubting their ability to climb back in the playoff race.

"I think last year gave us a bunch of confidence," Chapman said. "We made the playoffs when nobody expected us to do anything. We were all a bunch of young kids. Now we've been there. Now we know what it takes. That's why we didn't panic at the beginning of the year."

[RELATED: Hendriks rebounds to break Fingers' A's reliever K record]

Now the A's find themselves in position to reach the postseason for the second straight year. At 91-61, Oakland leads Tampa Bay by two games and Cleveland by 2 1/2 in the AL wild-card standings with just 10 games remaining.

"We're confident," Chapman said. "We expect to be in the Wild Card Game. We want to host that thing."

Liam Hendriks rebounds, breaks Rollie Fingers' A's strikeout record

Liam Hendriks rebounds, breaks Rollie Fingers' A's strikeout record

OAKLAND -- One of baseball's most common clichés is that relief pitchers need to have a short memory. A's closer Liam Hendriks has a slightly different variation of that rule.

"I don't know if it's a short memory or just have a really bad memory," he joked Tuesday.

Hendriks suffered a rare blown save in Monday's loss to the Kansas City Royals but bounced back with a dominant ninth inning Tuesday night, as the A's picked up a 2-1 win. 

"I spoke to my wife about it last night," Hendriks told NBC Sports California. "Everything felt good, but it didn't feel good, if that makes any sense. My ball felt light, and that's abnormal for me when I'm going out there.

"But I worked on it a little bit today, made sure I got my legs under me a little bit, and the results were there. I was able to throw some good breaking balls when I needed to and kept them off balance enough where, if I left a fastball in a bad spot, they were able to miss it because I had set them up."

Added A's manager Bob Melvin: "It's very rare when Liam blows a save. He's been great for us all year. So it was good to get him right back in there."

Hendriks set the Royals down in order in the ninth, recording a pair of strikeouts to give him 118 for the season, with 116 coming as a reliever. That broke the A's record for strikeouts by a relief pitcher, previously held by Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, who had 115 in 1975.

"It was cool," Hendriks said. "It's not something I started the year out after, but as it kept getting closer, I was a little bit aware of it. ... Anytime you get talked about in the same sentence as Rollie Fingers, it's a pretty big deal. I'm just happy to bounce back from last night. Obviously, last night wasn't the best situation for me, but I came back and had that vigor again and was able to put it to bed."

[RELATED: How A's Wendelken has earned Melvin's trust in big spots]

Hendriks has enjoyed a breakout season at the age of 30. The right-hander is 4-3 with 23 saves and a 1.66 ERA with those 118 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings.

"(The strikeout) is his biggest weapon," Melvin said. "It gets him out of jams with guys on base. He's got a much better slider to keep them off his fastball. His fastball (velocity) is the best it's been in his career. But I think that the command of his breaking ball allows his fastball to play up and he's been striking guys out all year."

With all of the bullpen struggles Oakland has experienced this season, Hendriks has been a godsend. His ninth-inning dominance has allowed the A's to remain in the driver's seat for a second straight postseason berth.