After getting a rare treat -- consecutive nights off in Chicago in the heart of the season -- the Oakland Athletics return to afternoon baseball on Friday when they open a three-game series against the host Chicago White Sox.
When last seen on the field, the A's were getting shellacked 10-1 at Wrigley Field by the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday afternoon, giving them two losses in three games in the first half of their week-long Chicago visit.
The A's then had Wednesday night and all of Thursday off, completing a cushy calendar week in which they also had a rare Friday off at home.
While Thursday's day off gave the A's a chance to lick their wounds -- they have lost five of their past seven on the road -- it was especially timely for outfielder Nick Martini, a native of northern Illinois who got his first hit of the season in Monday's loss.
Martini has taken the roster spot left vacant when center fielder Ramon Laureano went on the injured list with a stress reaction in his right shin last week. Laureano is expected to miss the entire month of August.
"I'm glad he's here right now," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Martini. "I'm glad he timed the Chicago trip, because he's a local guy and he got his first big-league hit here on the other side (last season against the White Sox). It's nice to have him back; he's a big part of this team and he can do some things for you."
A's right-hander Mike Fiers (10-3, 3.46) is scheduled to pitch the series opener, looking to extend his personal unbeaten streak to 17 games. He is 8-0 with a 2.26 ERA in his past 16 outings.
One of those starts was last month at home against the White Sox, a game the A's won 5-1 as part of a three-game sweep. Fiers shut out Chicago on eight hits over 7 2/3 innings.
He has never lost to the White Sox (3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in seven starts) or at Guaranteed Rate Field (1-0 with a 1.45 ERA in three starts).
Fiers will be facing a team coming off a 5-2 trip to Philadelphia and Detroit, a remarkable turnaround after having lost eight of their past nine home games.
Chicago's trip was bookended by wins in which the opponent finished the game with a position player on the mound.
"You can't make it up," catcher James McCann said after Wednesday's 8-1 win at Detroit.
"The stuff that happened in that 15-inning game, doubleheader with a rain delay followed by a day game ... it's a road trip that very easily could have gone in the opposite direction for us. But the tenacity of this team, we were able to go 5-2 on the trip. That's pretty good considering what we had to go through."
The White Sox are scheduled to send left-hander Ross Detwiler (1-2, 5.72) in search of his first career win over the A's, for whom he was employed for part of the 2016 season.
The 33-year-old has since faced them once, summoned in the first inning in Oakland on July 13 after the A's had bombed White Sox starter Dylan Covey.
Detwiler worked 3 1/3 innings in the 13-2 loss, allowing five runs (four earned) and seven hits.
He's 0-1 in his career against the A's with a 9.00 ERA in six outings, including one start.
--Field Level Media
Fiers on hot streak as refreshed A's take on White Sox
More TOP STORIES News