Astros: Storylines abound in ALDS matchup against Oakland

There is no shortage of storylines in the Houston Astros ALDS matchup with the Oakland A’s.

For you Astros fans who wanted revenge and vindication, this is probably one of the matchups you were hoping for. With the A’s defeating the White Sox on Thursday, the stage is now set for an ALDS rematch between Houston and its division rival Oakland, and there is no shortage of intrigue here.

The most obvious point is the presence of Mike Fiers on Oakland’s roster. Fiers, of course, is the man who got the whole sign stealing scandal started, and it was his way of getting revenge on his former team after they shelled him on the field in 2019. The Astros and A’s played 10 times in the 2020 regular season (including five in a row at one point) yet somehow Fiers managed to avoid pitching in any of those games.

The ducking and hiding may not work so well this time, as this best-of-five ALDS will be played without any days off in between games. If the series goes to five games, the A’s would have to pitch him at some point, wouldn’t they? They’ll probably try and avoid it as much as they can, so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

Fiers did start Oakland’s last game against the White Sox but failed miserably. He recorded only five outs while allowing five hits and a walk, including a mammoth 487-foot home run. Astros hitters are likely salivating at the thought of getting a shot at perhaps the most hated man in Houston (aside from Bill O’Brien).

Secondary Storylines

The A’s went 7-3 against the Astros in the regular season, with Houston winning both of the games that were played at Minute Maid Park but going 1-7 in Oakland. The good news is this ALDS will take place at a neutral site (Dodger Stadium) so that shouldn’t be a factor. Both teams have some momentum and confidence, so it’ll be interesting to see how they clash.

Speaking of Dodger Stadium, it’s interesting that the Astros could have a chance to tee off on Fiers at the site of their 2017 World Series victory, which happens to be the home stadium of the team and fan base that hates them the most. A win in this series could give Houston fans an immeasurable degree of satisfaction.

There’s also the fact that these teams don’t seem to like each other very much anyway. There was the incident earlier this year when A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano charged the Houston dugout after an exchange with hitting coach Alex Cintron. After Thursday’s game, A’s closer Liam Hendriks said they’re motivated to prove they’re the better team and stick it to the Astros.

Oakland did end the Astros run of three straight AL West titles, but the Astros have been to three straight ALCS and are looking to extend that streak. Houston is still the top dog in the division until the A’s make some real noise in the playoffs, and the Astros want to continue to give the critics something to choke on.

There’s no shortage of intrigue and no shortage of motivation for these two teams. It’ll be an interesting series and one that will hopefully be fun to watch and have a satisfying ending. The games begin on Monday, so buckle up!