Believe it or not, there was a point in tonight's game where the A's held a slim 1-0 lead, and A's fans everywhere were lamenting the wasted early scoring opportunities. True story.
But then came the fifth inning. If you like to use your baseball games to run errands, perhaps get a haircut, make some dinner, walk the dog, perhaps a short movie; then the fifth inning would have been perfect for you. Clinging to a 1-0 lead, the Astros handed the A's seven runs in the inning to give them a 8-0 lead. I'd love to say that the A's hit their way through the inning, but that's not entirely true. Believe it or not, the A's and Astros ended the game with just about the same number of hits (10 and 9, respectively); the Astros just put more A's on base. The telling statistic is the 8 Oakland batters the Astros' walked; if not for Pat Neshek's hot mess in the seventh, the A's pitchers wouldn't have walked a batter.
I can't discuss Dan Straily without talking about the Astros first. Everything I'm going to say should be weighed with the fact that the Astros struck out 13 times tonight, 15 times on Wednesday, 15 times on Tuesday, and 13 times on Monday. That's 54 strikeouts in four games; the most in baseball since the 1900's. And for those of you doing the math; that's an average of 14 strikeouts in a 27-out game.
But strikeout-prone opponent or not, Dan Straily still put together a completely dominating performance, striking out 11 Astros while walking none in his 6.2 innings, allowing just five hits, one real run, and one garbage run from Neshek's poor outing.
But even after that, he'll be sent down to the minors tonight, in favor of Bartolo Colon, who will start tomorrow, being rewarded for cheating last season with 7 times Straily's salary and his starting position. Don't get me wrong; I know we need the depth. I'm not naive as to think the A's won't have numerous different starting rotations in 2013, but I don't have to like this one.
The A's took the lead from the very first batter tonight as Coco Crisp crushed a 1-2 count curveball for a leadoff home run. The A's 1-0 lead would stay that way until the 5th inning, as the A's got Brad Peacock to wobble, but not fall down. He lasted into the fifth, striking out 5 A's, walking 3; allowing 3 hits and 2 runs. However, his replacement, Xavier Cedeno, must have done something terrible to the Houston manager; he was left in long enough to give up six runs without recording an out.
Let me explain. No. Is too much. Let me sum up.
Coco Crisp started the carrousel with a one-out double, knocking Peacock out of the game. Lowrie and Reddick walked to load the bases, bringing up Cespedes. Scott Hatteberg will tell you that this was a hard hit ball, and a tough play, but that's not true. It was a pretty routine ground ball hit to shortstop that was booted into two runs. The scorekeeper agreed with me; it was an error on the play, leaving Cespedes 0-5 on the night, and he did not look good doing it.
John Jaso took advantage of the chaos following the error by dropping a safety squeeze right in front of the plate, while Reddick scampered home to score the A's fourth run. Chris Young walked to re-load the bases, and Josh Donaldson, in one of the hardest hit ball of the inning, singled in two more. Eric Sogard was nailed by a pitch to re-load the bases yet again, and this time, Coco got the hit; a two-run double to score runs seven and eight.
The Astros scored one off Straily in the sixth, and Neshek gave up another run in the seventh, right before he loaded the bases with two hits and a walk. He left without recording an out. But luckily, Resop cleaned up the threat, and Scribner pitched the last two innings, allowing one run.
When it was all said and done, the A's are 3-2, dating Miss .600, collecting another win for a starting pitcher, and finally righting the ship after the 0-2 start. And it's a notable difference that the A's get to play the Astros; I don't think I really realized how unfair Interleague play was; there is a difference between the Astros and the Giants. Just sayin'.
We do it again tomorrow; Bartolo Colon vs. Bud Norris (Houston's best starter). Gametime 4:10PM.