OAKLAND -- The A's lineup has a slightly different look today against Houston lefty Brett Oberholtzer. Coco Crisp gets a planned day off, with the A's about to play a 16-games-in-16-days stretch after their off-day Monday. Kurt Suzuki will catch Dan Straily, but Melvin wanted to get Derek Norris in the lineup as well against the left-hander so Norris is at DH.
Oberholtzer, the 24-year-old Astros rookie, has a 1.98 ERA since July 31 that's the lowest in the American League during that time. Left-handed hitters have actually had more success against him than righties in his nine outings -- right-handers are batting .202 with a .553 OPS against him, while lefties are at .311 with an .852 OPS.
The A's don't have a lefty in the lineup, so we'll see if playing matchups pays off today. Here's the full Oakland lineup:
And the Astros' lineup against A's right-hander Dan Straily:
* Melvin acknowledged it's not easy to take Crisp out of the lineup right now with how Crisp has sparked the A's offense, "but it's the prudent thing to do. ... He plays hard, he plays that style every inning of every game, and we've gotten ourselves into trouble at times maybe pushing him a little too far."
* Grant Balfour likely won't be available today after throwing 35 pitches in a shaky save Friday night. Melvin said Balfour could be off-limits the rest of the series, but "We'll see how he feels tomorrow."
We touched on the initial reaction to Balfour's outing in last night's post-game blog, but Melvin was asked about Balfour again this morning, and again held the closer's results -- 37 saves in 39 chances, including five of his last six despite allowing runs in four of the six -- up over the style in which he has recorded them.
Melvin said Balfour might have been trying to overthrow his fastball a little Friday night and "his stuff may not have been as crisp as we've seen earlier in the year." The Astros scored on an Eric Sogard error with runners at first and third and one out, and Balfour retired the final two hitters to finish the save, including striking out Dominguez with men on second and third to end the game.
"I think it's a little more magnified when it is the closer, because he's the last line of defense, but everybody's going to go through periods of time where they struggle over the course of the season," Melvin said.
* Melvin was also asked about Yusmeiro Petit, the Giants pitcher who came within one strike of a perfect game Friday night, whom Melvin managed in Arizona earlier in Petit's career. Melvin said Petit struck him as being "able to keep the ball off the barrel of the bat when he's good," but also had consistency issues.
"His problem when I was there at times was getting the ball up in the zone, and when you don't throw that hard, your fastball's fairly straight, you can give up some homers," Melvin said. "When he's down in the zone he's much more difficult to deal with.
"He mixes his pitches up, he's got a little crossfire to him across his body, and there are times he's been really good. Hats off to him, that was a terrific performance."
* It's an all-rookie matchup today between Oberholtzer and Straily, who leads all A.L. rookies in starts (23), strikeouts (102) and innings (127.1) and is tied for second with eight wins. Straily is just 2-5 in his last nine starts since the All-Star Break, though, with a 4.56 ERA. His one start against Houston this season came back on April 5, when he held the Astros to two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings in an 8-3 A's win.
-- Matt Kawahara