A pivotal three-game series between two American League wild-card candidates commences today when the A's visit the reeling Baltimore Orioles.
Oakland has a three-game edge over the Orioles for the second AL wild card and has slipped to 2½ games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West. Baltimore has lost seven of 11 contests and has fallen 5½ games back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis slugged his 46th homer in Wednesday's victory over Tampa Bay to match Jim Gentile (1961) for third-most homers in franchise history. Brady Anderson (1996) holds the team mark of 50 and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson clubbed 49 in 1966.
Oakland experienced a painful series while losing two of three games to Seattle as catcher Derek Norris broke a toe in Tuesday's contest and outfielder Josh Reddick left Wednesday's tilt with more wrist soreness.
The A's plan on sending right-hander Dan Straily (6-7, 4.22 ERA) to the mound today, who has lost five consecutive decisions despite allowing two earned runs or fewer in four of his last six starts. He fell to Cleveland in his last turn when he gave up three runs and six hits in 5²⁄³ innings. Straily lost his only career start against the Orioles in September when he allowed four runs and five hits in 4²⁄³ innings.
The Orioles are set to counter with Bud Norris, making his fifth start (and sixth appearance) since Baltimore acquired him from the Houston Astros. He defeated the Colorado Rockies in his last outing when he gave up four runs and nine hits in 5²⁄³ innings.
Norris is 0-2 with a 7.82 ERA in three starts against Oakland this season — lasting just 12²⁄³ innings, including failing to get out of the first frame in one start.
NOTE: A's manager Bob Melvin said the team has not decided whether Norris will need to go on the disabled list. With catchers John Jaso (concussion) on the disabled list, Stephen Vogt started Wednesday, and third baseman Josh Donaldson served as the emergency catcher. If Norris goes on the DL, the A's will have to either call up a catcher from the minor leagues or acquire one from outside the organization.