After taking two of three against the Baltimore Orioles to open up the second half of the season, the Oakland Athletics host a three-game set against the Houston Astros, starting Tuesday. Houston visits the American League West leaders a mere 20.5 games back—however, the Astros proudly only sport the league’s second-worst record (41-58).

The A’s deserve some much-needed face time against the bottom-feeders, particularly after three consecutive series against teams (the San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles) that would be headed to the playoffs, were the season to end today. Oakland has not played a team with a non-winning record since June 29, when the A’s faced the Miami Marlins. In fact, the Athletics have faced the fewest sub-.500 opponents in all of the American League and sport a 25-12 record against teams with losing records. Oakland is thirsting for a few gimmes.

It would appear that the two-time division champs will be welcoming an easy go of it against the Astros. After all, Oakland thoroughly dominated Houston last season, going 15-4 versus their new division rivals, winning each of the first 10 matchups. Will the Athletics have an easy go of it against the perennially moribund Astros?

This season, the Astros are seemingly over-performing, already winning two out of seven games they have played against the A’s so far.

Surely, Houston has proved that it has improved—even just a little bit. The Astros roster is a smidge different than it was earlier this season. By adding a couple upcoming youngsters, the Astros seem to be at least watchable, if only somewhat.

Here are five things to look for in the Athletics’ upcoming series versus Houston.

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