When the Braves take on the A's at Turner Field on Friday night, there isn't going to be a whole lot of familiarity, given it's an Interleague matchup between teams who also play in different Spring Training leagues.
"One of those teams you probably know as little about as any other team," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You don't play them in spring, we haven't seen them here since I've been here. You obviously take a harder look at your scouting reports and try to get a good feel for that team. The first day, you get a better sense of what they're trying to do, but you try to combat that with your scouting stuff."
Oakland starter Jason Hammel has some experience against the Braves, though that might not necessarily be a good thing for him. In seven career starts against Atlanta, Hammel has a 5.68 ERA. He fared much better in his last two starts against Atlanta; he allowed just two earned runs on eight hits in 16 innings in a 2012 and '14 start.
After four rocky starts for Oakland, Hammel has resembled the quality starter the A's thought they were acquiring in his last two. He limited the Twins to one run in 6 1/3 innings on Sunday, lowering his ERA to 5.90 in six starts with the A's.
He'll be opposed by lefty Alex Wood, who achieved new career-high numbers with 12 strikeouts and 124 pitches as he limited the Nationals to only one run in 7 1/3 innings in his last turn. He's compiled a 1.33 ERA in 20 1/3 innings during his last three starts.
Braves: Avilan returns with confidence
Luis Avilan established himself as one of the most reliable setup men in the Braves' bullpen last year. With a little more than six weeks remaining in this season, he is simply attempting to re-establish himself as a Major Leaguer while proving to be the left-handed specialist Atlanta needs.
Though he has not produced impressive statistics since being sent to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 19, Avilan was recalled on Thursday to fill the roster spot that was vacated when right-handed reliever Juan Jaime was sent to Gwinnett late Wednesday night. When asked if he felt he can be the left-handed specialist the Braves have been seeking, Avilan said, "We'll see."
Avilan allowed a run on two hits, getting two outs in the ninth on Thursday vs. the Dodgers.
Avilan produced a 5.40 ERA and allowed opponents to produce a .444 on-base percentage in the nine appearances he made for Gwinnett. He allowed left-handed hitters to go 4-for-13 with three strikeouts and three walks.
Like with many big leaguers who are sent to Minors, these numbers are influenced by the fact that Avilan was more concerned with making necessary adjustments than he was the results. In other words, he often threw his curveball or changeup in counts that would not make sense if he were pitching in big league games.
"I gave up a few walks my first few outings because I was trying to throw more curveballs and more changeups," Avilan said. "That gave me more balls in those counts. I've been feeling so much better with my pitches now."
Avilan produced a 1.52 ERA in a career-high 75 appearances last year. But as April progressed this season, he lost confidence in his curveball and primarily became a one-pitch pitcher who relied on an inconsistent sinker. Avilan had a 4.85 ERA in the 47 appearances he made before being sent to Gwinnett.
"I had a lot of confidence with the sinker, but I lost the control," Avilan said. "I wasn't throwing the fastball like I needed. But I feel like I have my confidence back and I think I'm going to be OK."
A's: Moss hoping slump is done
Before breaking out for a career high-tying four hits in Tuesday's 11-3 win over the Royals, Brandon Moss admitted he's been pitched differently since Yoenis Cespedes left for Boston -- but for reasons that have nothing to do with Cespedes, who routinely hit in front of him.
"If anything, it's because of me," Moss said before the game. "I feel like I've been pitched a little differently for a while, but that isn't because of who is in front or behind me. That's because when I'm starting to struggle, my thinking has been, 'You can't walk your way out of a slump. You have to figure it out and you have to hit.' So when I get into a slump, I'm the type that gets more aggressive. All it does is open more holes, and then I can't even hit to my strengths.
"It could've been Cespy, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco hitting in front of me, behind me, it didn't matter."
Moss is already one of the A's most aggressive hitters, even when not in a slump. Strikeouts, and lots of them, will always be part of his game, but he wasn't just striking out on pitches out of the zone, like he often does. He was swinging through pitches in the zone, mostly underneath them.
"I'm talking a good two inches under it, not even fouling it off, and it seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn't correct it," Moss said. "I think part of it had to do with some of the pitches I had been getting, a lot of breaking balls, offspeed. Then when I would get a fastball, I was a little late on it."
Moss was out of the lineup on Wednesday and was 2-for-5 on Thursday.
• Wood owns a 2.10 ERA in eight Interleague outings (three starts).
• Hammel has allowed just one earned run in 12 innings during his last two starts.
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.