A’s tab Bassitt to open ALDS vs. Astros

MLB: Wild Card-Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics

Right-hander Chris Bassitt will be on the mound Monday when the Oakland Athletics open the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros in Los Angeles.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Bassitt will be followed by left-hander Sean Manaea in Game 2.

Astros manager Dusty Baker said right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 3.93 ERA) will start Game 1, with left-hander Framber Valdez (5-3, 3.57) pitching Game 2.

Bassitt (5-2, 2.29 ERA) has been sensational over his last five starts — four regular season, one playoff — by going 4-0 and allowing just two runs over 33 2/3 innings.

The most recent outing was a win over the Chicago White Sox in Game 2 of the first-round series when he gave up one run and six hits over seven innings in Oakland’s 5-3 triumph.

Bassitt’s stellar stretch began with seven shutout innings in a win over the Astros on Sept. 7. He also faced Houston on Aug. 29 and suffered the loss by allowing four runs and six hits over three innings.

The 31-year-old said he is focused more on his job than the Astros’ lineup.

“I’m just trying to be myself,” Bassitt said. “I’m not worried what they can do with their lineup, honestly. I know what they can do as a lineup, I know what good of hitters they have. I’m just trying to be myself, I’m not thinking much about what they can do.”

Manaea (4-3, 4.50) hasn’t pitched since Sept. 23 when he gave up three runs and six hits over six innings in a no-decision against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was bypassed in the series against the White Sox.

Manaea was itching to get a postseason start to make amends for his poor outing in last season’s AL wild-card game. In that contest, he served up three homers and allowed four runs and four hits in just two innings during a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

“He wants another opportunity. He’s quite a competitor,” Melvin said of Manaea. “For a jovial guy, he gets fired up to pitch. He understood how we were going about it in the last series but was itching to pitch.

“Any time you have a memory like that, you want to get back and erase that. It’s important for him to pitch again, and I think he’s ready for it.”

McCullers is 5-2 with a 4.04 ERA in nine career starts against the A’s.

–Field Level Media