Athletics

A's vs. Astros lineups: Mark Canha returns to face Justin Verlander

A's vs. Astros lineups: Mark Canha returns to face Justin Verlander

OAKLAND -- Mark Canha returns to the lineup Friday night as the A's try to make it two in a row against the first-place Houston Astros.

Canha missed Thursday's series opener with a minor hand injury but will be back in center field for Game 2. He will bat sixth in the order.

Oakland and Houston combined to hit a Coliseum-record 10 home runs Thursday night, with the A's earning a wild 7-6 victory. Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa all hit two homers, while Corban Joseph and Alex Bregman each hit one. It was Joseph's first career long ball.

The home runs figure to be a bit tougher to come by Friday night, with Astros ace Justin Verlander taking the hill. The 36-year-old right-hander is having another phenomenal season with a 15-4 record and 2.82 ERA. The 15 wins are tied for second-most in the majors and his 217 strikeouts rank third. Verlander always has been a thorn in the A's side. In 22 career starts against Oakland, he is 14-6 with a 2.52 ERA.

The A's will counter with veteran right-hander Tanner Roark. The 32-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts since joining Oakland from the Cincinnati Reds late last month. Overall this season, Roark is 7-8 with a 4.06 ERA. He is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA in two career starts against Houston.

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Astros 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.

Oakland A's (69-52)
Marcus Semien, SS
Robbie Grossman, LF
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Khris Davis, DH
Mark Canha, CF
Stephen Piscotty, RF
Corban Joseph, 2B
Chris Herrmann, C

Tanner Roark, RHP (7-8, 4.06 ERA)

Houston Astros (78-44)
George Springer, CF
José Altuve, 2B
Michael Brantley, LF
Alex Bregman, 3B
Yordan Álvarez, DH
Carlos Correa, SS
Yuli Gurriel, 1B
Robinson Chirinos, C
Josh Reddick, RF

Justin Verlander, RHP (15-4, 2.82 ERA)

A's vs. Rangers lineups: Mike Fiers makes first start since hand issue

A's vs. Rangers lineups: Mike Fiers makes first start since hand issue

OAKLAND -- The A's open their final home series of the regular season Friday night when they welcome the Texas Rangers to the Coliseum.

Oakland swept the Rangers last weekend in Texas to improve to 11-5 in the season series. The A's enter Friday's action with a two-game lead in the AL wild-card race, ahead of both Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

Right-hander Mike Fiers will get the start for Oakland after leaving his last outing in Texas with numbness in his right hand. The 34-year-old had an MRI earlier this week, which came back clean, and he felt fine during Tuesday's bullpen session.

For the season, Fiers is 14-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 31 starts. In 12 career games against Texas, he is 3-3 with a 6.50 ERA.

The Rangers will counter with left-hander Mike Minor. The 31-year-old is 13-9 with a 3.33 ERA this season, but the A's knocked him around for seven earned runs in five innings his last time out. Minor is 2-3 with a 4.83 ERA in eight career appearances against Oakland.

The A's have loaded up their lineup with right-handed bats, as they typically do when facing southpaws. First baseman Matt Olson is the only left-hander in the lineup, batting third.

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

Texas Rangers (74-79)
DH Shin-Soo Choo
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Willie Calhoun
RF Nomar Mazara
3B Danny Santana 
2B Rougned Odor
1B Ronald Guzmán
CF Delino DeShields
C Jose Trevino
LHP Mike Minor (13-9, 3.33 ERA)

Oakland A's (92-61)
SS Marcus Semien
3B Matt Chapman
1B Matt Olson
CF Mark Canha 
RF Ramón Laureano 
DH Khris Davis
C Sean Murphy
LF Chad Pinder
2B Sheldon Neuse
RHP Mike Fiers (14-4, 4.09 ERA)

Liam Hendriks' shift in energy big factor in surging success with A's

Liam Hendriks' shift in energy big factor in surging success with A's

You feel it.

Whether you're witnessing it in person or watching it on a screen, the energy a pitcher exudes once he sends the batter to the dugout with no apologies, no reparation. It's magnetic.

You feel it.

A's Australian-born pitcher Liam Hendriks isn't an exception to the rule, as a matter of fact, he's the lesson. 

Call it confidence, call it arrogance -- whatever your term is, it's survival of the fittest on the diamond. 

Hendriks detailed some of this mentality in the latest Momentum documentary: "Resiliency: The Road to Becoming an All-Star." But I wanted to know more.

When you approach Hendriks in his workout shorts. His curly hair is a bit disorderly, he's calm and approachable. But that's not who he is when he's on the bump. He's on one side of the battle of the egos -- and he's going to win.

"For me, it’s just convincing myself that no matter what, I’m better than you," Hendriks told NBC Sports California. "So it’s not necessarily arrogance, it’s just extreme confidence. But for me, if I have to think ‘Oh I can’t throw it here, because that’s where they’re good,' that’s where I get in trouble. So for me, it’s just convincing myself that I’m better than whoever is at the plate."

The hitter has the same mentality which turns into the ultimate matchup. The loser oftentimes is he or she who doubts themselves.

"You need to have that confidence and arrogance going out there to be like 'It doesn’t matter, I’m gonna win this battle no matter what,'" Hendriks said.

"No matter what I throw, if I’m convicted and I believe that I’m better than them I’m gonna get it done."

Twelve-year pitching veteran Peter Moylan has been enjoying watching Hendriks taking care of batters and the journey he took to get to his All-Star season.

"I think what we do have in common is absolutely f-----g loving to prove people wrong," Moylan said. "I was told I was done so many times in my career and I'm sure he has heard it too."

But Moylan's approach on the rubber is a bit different from Hendriks' animalistic attitude, and he compared the closer's mindset to that of another Aussie, Grant Balfour. Moylan had to find a sense of stillness.

"It's what works for them," Moylan added. "I needed to stay under control and calm when I pitched."

Hendriks agreed that there are times he needs to remain calm as well.

But there's always time for this ... 

"I love watching Liam blow a stack after the third out," Moylan added. 

That intensity makes a difference.

"When you go out on the mound, there's a certain level of -- kind of raising testosterone that you kind of have to have to go out there and repeat against other guys that are doing the same thing," Chicago White Sox reliever Evan Marshall said.

"You have the mentality of going out there for your family, you just have to find little motivations that can drive you to push harder."

He also said slamming a couple of RedBulls helps.

"Caffeine's big in the bullpen, all bullpens sponsored by RedBull ... and Excedrin," he laughed.

He echoed Hendriks' sentiment.

"They can't beat me," Marshall explained. "My stuff is better than them."

And if it's bad out on the field, the bullpen feeds off of it.

"Like yesterday, we had a bullpen day, and we only gave up one run to the Twins who set the home run record this year, so one after another we were just kind of running out there like 'It's my turn to do my job and set it up for the next guy.'"

Then, Marshall made it rather simple.

"But while you're out there it's time to, I dunno, rage."

[RELATED: A's playoff chances with nine games remaining]

You can rage, sure. But where's the line between cocky and confident?

Dallas Braden notices the difference.

"You’re confident as you move through the world," he said. "Confident as you move through the clubhouse. You’re cocky as soon as you take the mound because -- how can you not be? If you’re Liam Hendriks toting around 100 miles per hour how can you not be?"