The Astros' move to the American League West has gone well for the Athletics. With Oakland's 2-1 victory on Saturday, it improved to 14-4 against Houston this season.
The two teams close their first season series as division-mates on Sunday afternoon at O.Co Coliseum, with the A's looking to take the four-game set. Their dominance over the Astros this season has helped push them to a season-best 22 games over .500 and into sole possession of first place. Saturday's victory -- Oakland's 10th in 13 games -- also clinched its second straight season with a winning record.
Bartolo Colon (14-6, 2.90 ERA) gets the start for Oakland as he looks to rediscover the form he showed for much of the season. At 40 years old, Colon is making his 27th start, which is his most since 2005. That workload could be catching up with the right-hander, who has failed to complete five innings in four consecutive starts after finishing six or more in each of his previous 15 outings.
Colon also is 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA and a .387 opponents' average over his last four starts. He held the Rangers to one earned run on Tuesday, but he lasted only five innings, and three unearned runs also scored, thanks in part to Colon booting a comebacker.
"I pitched the ball well," Colon said. "The one play that made the difference was the ball they hit to me that I dropped. ... It's a routine play."
Houston's Paul Clemens was scheduled to make his third career start, but he was scratched because of a blister. Lucas Harrell will take Clemens' place.
Astros: Grossman still out
Outfielder Robbie Grossman missed his fourth consecutive game on Saturday with a strained oblique.
"It's just going to be day to day," Porter said. "It's going to take a little time with the oblique."
Before his injury, Grossman had notched two hits in consecutive games. He's hitting .322 with an .815 OPS since July 30.
• Second baseman Jose Altuve was 13-for-27 (.481) in September, with multiple hits in five of six games, before going 1-for-4 on Saturday.
Athletics: Concern about Balfour?
Grant Balfour wasn't available on Saturday, when Sean Doolittle filled in as closer, and he could be held out of action on Sunday as well after throwing 35 pitches on Friday. That extended appearance was indicative of Balfour's recent performance.
The righty nailed down the save on Friday, his fifth conversion in his last six attempts. On the other hand, he has surrendered a run in four of those games, permitting 14 baserunners and producing a 9.53 ERA over 5 2/3 innings.
"Granted, his stuff might not have been as crisp as we've seen earlier in the year, but there are going to be periods in time when guys struggle a little bit and it's not only just the closer," manager Bob Melvin said. "It's more magnified, as I've said before, when it is the closer because he's the last line of defense. But everybody's going to go through periods where they struggle some during the course of the season."
• Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes logged his fifth multihit effort in seven September games on Saturday, when he belted his second home run of the month. He is 11-for-26 (.423) over that span.
• In four starts against the Astros this year, Colon is 3-1 with a 3.52 ERA, 17 strikeouts and one walk over 23 innings.