OAKLAND Drew Lock Jersey , Calif. — The Oakland Athletics will encounter one of their all-time nemeses Thursday afternoon when they face Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander in the finale of a three-game series.
The Astros have dominated the first two games of the series between American League West rivals, riding a total of 10 RBIs from Evan Gattis to 6-3 and 13-5 victories.
Houston has won seven of eight from Oakland this season.
The Astros have done it without any help from Verlander (8-2, 1.45 ERA), who has yet to face the A’s this season.
They have seen plenty of each other in the veteran’s 14-year career, including five times in the postseason, when Verlander has gone 4-0 against Oakland.
Included in the four wins were Game 5 clinchers for Detroit in 2012, when Verlander pitched a 6-0 shutout, and 2013, when he threw eight innings of shutout ball in a 3-0 win.
A’s general manager Billy Beane got so fed up losing to Verlander, he attempted to stack the Oakland pitching staff in anticipation of a rematch in 2014, acquiring Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel at midseason at the costly expense of Addison Russell and Yoenis Cespedes.
The A’s, who already had Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir anchoring their staff, never got a shot at Verlander in the playoffs that year, losing 9-8 to Kansas City in the American League wild-card game http://www.denverbroncosteamonline.com/dre_mont-jones-jersey , which Lester started and Hammel finished.
With Lester, Samardzija and Hammel all leaving the team the following season either via trade or free agency, the A’s haven’t been back in the postseason since. In fact, they’ve never finished higher than fourth place the last three seasons.
Verlander has a 10-6 record and 2.61 ERA in 17 starts against the A’s in his career during the regular season. He’s 5-4 with a 2.38 ERA in 10 starts in Oakland.
The A’s will counter with their modern-day version of Verlander, rookie right-hander Frankie Montas (3-0, 1.25), who has been brilliant in three starts this season.
Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in one of Oakland’s many veteran sell-offs since becoming a non-contender in 2015, Montas has allowed a total of three runs in 21 2/3 innings in wins over Arizona and Kansas City (twice).
Montas pitched twice in relief against Houston in 2017, getting shelled in one inning in each appearance.
He gave up three hits and two runs in the ninth inning of a 10-6 loss to the Astros in his 11th career appearance early in the 2017 season, then served up a three-run home run to Marwin Gonzalez in the ninth inning of a 7-2 loss two weeks later.
Gonzalez had one of Houston’s four home runs in Wednesday’s shellacking, but the story of the game for the second consecutive night was Gattis.
The designated hitter, who had recorded four RBIs nine separate times in his career before this series began, enjoyed his second consecutive five-RBI performance in Wednesday’s win, belting two home runs along the way.
Gattis had been just 3-for-12 with no homers and no RBIs in six games against the A’s this season before exploding for four hits, including three homers T.J. Hockenson Jersey , in seven at-bats the last two nights.
JAGUARS (12-6) at PATRIOTS (14-3)
Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS
OPENING LINE – Patriots by 9 1/2
RECORD VS. SPREAD – Jaguars 9-7, Patriots 11-5
SERIES RECORD – Patriots lead 10-1
LAST MEETING – Patriots beat Jaguars 51-17, Sept. 27, 2015
LAST WEEK – Jaguars beat Steelers 45-42; Patriots beat Titans 35-14
AP PRO32 RANKING – Jaguars No. 10, Patriots No. 1
JAGUARS OFFENSE – OVERALL (6), RUSH (1), PASS (17)
JAGUARS DEFENSE – OVERALL (2), RUSH (21), PASS (1)
PATRIOTS OFFENSE – OVERALL (1), RUSH (10), PASS (2)
PATRIOTS DEFENSE – OVERALL (29), RUSH (20), PASS (30)
STREAKS Justice Hill Jersey , STATS AND NOTES -Patriots are 3-1 in playoffs against Jaguars. Lone Jacksonville win was 25-10 in 1998 wild-card round when Tom Coughlin was Jacksonville’s coach and Pete Carroll coached New England. … Patriots have won past seven meetings overall and two straight in postseason. … Since Jaguars entered NFL in 1995, they are 1-10 (.091) against Patriots, including playoff games. That’s worst winning percentage of any team vs. one opponent (minimum 10 games) in that span. … Jaguars seeking first trip to Super Bowl, one of four franchises (Lions, Texans, Browns) never to get there. … Jaguars are making third appearance in AFC title game in their 23-year history and first since 1999 season. … Jacksonville lost 20-6 to New England in AFC title game on Jan. 12, 1997. … Jacksonville can become 11th team to defeat top two seeds from their conference in same postseason since 1990 when current playoff format was adopted. … Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone is 1-3 all-time vs. Patriots … Jaguars are 8-0 this season when QB Blake Bortles doesn’t have turnover and 4-6 when he does. … Jags have plus-7 turnover margin on road this season (including playoffs), best mark in franchise history. They have 22 takeaways in nine road games this season, most in NFL and most in single season in franchise history. … Including playoffs, Jacksonville’s defense has scored eight touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. It is most defensive TDs scored in season by one team since 2012 Bears. … In addition to being ranked fourth in NFL in opponent’s red zone TD percentage (43.8), Jacksonville also has best red zone scoring percentage in NFL, scoring TDs on 67.9 percent of trips this season (40 TDs on 56 drives). … RB Leonard Fournette rushed for 109 yards and three TDs in last week’s divisional win. He is only rookie in NFL history with 100-plus yards rushing and three or more rushing TDs in postseason game. … LB Telvin Smith tied career high with 16 tackles and returned fumble for TD last week. He has 27 tackles, forced fumble and fumble return in his two career playoff games. … DE Calais Campbell led AFC with franchise-record and career-high 14 1/2 sacks. … DE Yannick Ngakoue was one of two NFL players (Aaron Donald) with 10 or more sacks (12) and five or more forced fumbles (six). … LB Myles Jack had sack, INT and three pass defenses in first two playoff games. … CB A.J. Bouye has two INTs http://www.ravenscheapstores.com/ben-powers-jersey-cheap , forced fumble and seven pass defenses in his past four postseason games. … Patriots playing in seventh straight AFC title game, a record. … New England is 9-4 in AFC championship game overall. Patriots’ 14 appearance rank behind only Pittsburgh (16) and San Francisco (15) for conference title contests. … Coach Bill Belichick is 7-2 all-time vs. Jaguars. … QB Tom Brady is 2-0 in playoffs against Jaguars, throwing for six TDs and no interceptions. …Jacksonville is one of seven NFL teams that Brady has undefeated regular-season record against (5-0). … Jaguars had NFL’s No. 2-ranked scoring defense. Brady has faced top-two scoring defense in playoffs three times (2014 Seahawks, 2004 Eagles, 2004 Steelers). He is 3-0 with passer rating above 100 in each game. … Brady led NFL with 4,577 yards passing and ranked first in AFC with 32 TDs. Both are most by QB at age 40 or older. … RB Dion Lewis has 507 scrimmage yards (126.8 per game) with 5 TDs (three rushing, two receiving) in his past four games, including playoffs. … TE Rob Gronkowski led all NFL tight ends with 1,084 yards receiving, his fourth career 1,000-yard season. That is tied with Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten for most among tight ends in NFL history. … In his past six postseason games, Gronkowski has 512 yards receiving (85.3 per game) and seven TDs. He is looking for his seventh playoff game in row with TD catch. … WR Danny Amendola has 190 yards receiving (95 per game) and TD in past two playoff games. … DE Trey Flowers had sack last week. He has 3 1/2 sacks in past two playoff games. … LB James Harrison has 11 career sacks in postseason, tied for fifth most in NFL history.