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Sports

Five things to know about the Oakland Athletics

The White Sox's Leury Garcia steals second base as Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien takes the throw Aug. 10, 2019, at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The White Sox's Leury Garcia steals second base as Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien takes the throw Aug. 10, 2019, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Playing a schedule against teams only from the Central divisions of the American League and National League during the regular season because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, the White Sox are heading out to the West Coast for the opening round of the playoffs.

They draw the Athletics at Oakland. Here are five things to know about the A's:

Boffo bullpen

Oakland's relief pitchers led the major leagues with a 2.74 ERA, but that number is a little deceiving.

The A's bullpen was 10-2 with a 1.87 ERA over the first 34 games of the season and 4-3 with a 4.30 ERA over the last 26.

It's still a solid group, headed by closer Liam Hendricks (3-1, 1.78 ERA, 14 saves).

Shaky offense

The Sox finished first in the AL with 96 home runs and second with a .261 batting average and 306 runs scored. Meanwhile, Oakland ranked 14th with a .225 average, tied for eighth with 274 runs and ninth with 71 homers.

Chicago ties

The Athletics have several players who used to be with the Sox.

Star shortstop Marcus Semien and pitcher Chris Bassitt, who starts Game 2, were acquired from the Sox in a trade for Jeff Samardzija after the 2014 season.

Frankie Montas pitched for the Sox in 2015, and reliever J.B. Wendelken was a minor leaguer from 2013 to '15. Another bullpen arm, Joakim Soria, was with the Sox in 2018.

Infielder Tommy La Stella played for the Cubs from 2015 to '18, and second baseman Tony Kemp was with the Cubs last year.

Key loss

The A's are playing without star third baseman Matt Chapman, who had 10 home runs and 25 RBIs before having season-ending hip surgery two weeks ago.

First baseman Matt Olson leads Oakland with 14 homers and 42 RBIs.

Postseason blues

The Athletics are in the playoffs for the sixth time in nine years, but they've been far from successful.

Oakland has been eliminated in the first round five straight times, the past three in the wild-card game.

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