Todayâ€™s MLB game on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra is a clash from the American League as the Oakland Aâ€™s and Chicago White Sox finish up their three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.Â
Nat Coombs will be in the presenting chair once again, while Josh Chetwynd should be back after missing last weekâ€™s show due to the birth of his second child, Becca.Â First pitch is set for 19.05 and the show begins at 19.00.Â
The White Sox come into todayâ€™s game with just a half-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.Â
Both teams are in good form, with the Twins having won seven straight and the White Sox putting together a five-game winning streak until that was snapped yesterday by the Aâ€™s.Â In fact, the Aâ€™s victory was the first time in thirteen home games that the White Sox walked off the field without celebrating a win.Â
Chicagoâ€™s General Manager Kenny Williams is known for pulling off big trades and he was expected to be active prior to last nightâ€™s non-waiver trade deadline.Â While they did acquire starting pitcher Edwin Jackson on Friday, the long-rumoured deal to acquire slugger Adam Dunn didnâ€™t take place and thereâ€™s perhaps a slight feeling of disappointment among White Sox fans that they were unable to add an extra bat to their roster.
The Aâ€™s had a very quiet trade deadline and thatâ€™s indicative of their current position.Â Although they are in second place in the AL West, they are 8.5 games behind the Texas Rangers and few expect them to make a serious challenge for a playoff berth.Â
Oakland have been hit hard by injuries yet again, the latest example being the $10m gamble on Ben Sheets finally unravelling this week as he heads for season-ending surgery, but they have a good group of young talent and affordable Major Leaguers.Â General Manager Billy Beane believes that the current Aâ€™s will only improve next year and with a few key additions over the offseason, made possible by the large salaries of Sheets and Eric Chavez coming off the books, 2011 could see the Aâ€™s back in genuine contention for the first time since reaching the American League Championship Series in 2006.
The series is tied 1-1 heading into todayâ€™s game.Â The White Sox took the series opener 6-1 with Lucas Harrell earning a win in his Major League debut, but the Aâ€™s fought back yesterday as Dallas Braden pitched a complete game in a 6-2 victory.Â
Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez are the scheduled starters and both have been in excellent form of late.Â
Floyd had a 7.00 ERA after his first eight starts, but heâ€™s allowed only eighteen earned runs in his thirteen starts since then, resulting in a 1.90 ERA over that span.Â Floyd is a righty with a typical starting pitcher arsenal at his disposal: a low nineties fastball topping out at 94 MPH, an 87 MPH slider, a good curve and an occasional change-up.Â
Gonzalez is one of a number of impressive young starters that the Aâ€™s have amassed in recent years, either through draft picks or while trading away their best Major League talent.Â He was actually acquired from the White Sox back in January 2008 in a trade for outfielder Nick Swisher and his trade history makes for interesting reading.Â He was drafted by the White Sox in 2004, traded to the Phillies in a deal to acquire potential future Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome and then reacquired by the White Sox in a trade that sent Aaron Rowand to Philadelphia.Â Gonzalez was one of two pitchers that the Phillies sent the White Soxâ€™s way in that deal.Â The other? His opponent today, Gavin Floyd.
Gonzalez made his Major League debut in 2008 and was inconsistent in 2009, but this season he is showing why the White Sox clearly thought so highly of him.Â He can still be inconsistent at times and needs to reduce the number of walks he dishes out (4.2 per nine innings so far this season), but everything is going in the right direction as he gains more experience and develops his craft at the Big League level.Â With a low nineties fastball, a decent changeup and an excellent sweeping curveball, he has the potential to develop into a very good Major League starter.
Unfortunately weâ€™re not able to run a live blog this week, but weâ€™re looking at doing one next week instead.Â I will definitely be tuning in though.Â Tonightâ€™s show will be a meeting of two good teams and two in-form starters, with plenty of time to discuss all of the trade deadline moves as well.Â It should be a great show, available on DAB radio and via digital TV.