In front of 14,094 patrons, many disguised as seats, the Oakland Athletics defeated the Houston Astros by the final of 8-2. Every A's batter reached base at least once, and Jeff Samardzija pitched an excellent game.
A's score first
Both pitchers fired 1-2-3 innings and faced minor blips in the second, but the A's broke through in the third when Josh Donaldson drove in Alberto Callaspo from second base with a double down the left field line for an early 1-0 lead..
The A's scoring continued in the fourth inning when Brandon Moss first broke his 0-for-19 duck with a bloop single, and Josh Reddick belted a home run to right-center to bring the advantage to 3-0.
In the fifth, Josh Donaldson decided to show off that his knees were just fine thank you very much by stealing second base:
After Reddick's home run, however, Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman locked his game down. He allowed just a couple of scattered singles after that, and exited after seven innings at a 3-0 disadvantage.
For the first seven innings, Jeff Samardzija could not be stopped. Samardzija was showing movement and heat with his fastball, his splitter was super-effective, and his slider was taking advantage of the wide strike zone home plate umpire Mike DiMuro offered against left-handed batters tonight:
Entering the eighth inning, Samardzija was sitting on 96 pitches, and Bob Melvin had every reason to show faith in his starter to go at least through the eighth. Samardzija struck out Jake Marisnick looking, and Robbie Grossman swinging, but then he allowed an infield single to Jose Altuve. Former Athletic Chris Carter stepped to the plate, and Samardzija took him to 0-and-2 before he launched his 31st home run of the year to the first row of the opposite field to make it a 3-2 game.
Gregerson and Abad were warming up, but Bob Melvin gave Samardzija one more batter, and he got Dexter Fowler to fly out to left for a 116-pitch, two-run, 10-strikeout effort.
Bo calls on Sipp! It wasn't very effective...
The momentum seemed to be flowing towards the Astros as Bo Porter called on left-hander Tony Sipp with the bottom of the order comprising Josh Reddick, Andy Parrino, and Eric Sogard due up. Sipp entered tonight with the best ERA in the Astros bullpen, a 2.41 in 41 innings pitched, and had allowed only eight non-intentional walks all year, against 49 strikeouts.
Porter calls for Sipp! It wasn't very effective... pic.twitter.com/V118wAmrUG— Jeremy F. Koo (@jfkooAN) August 26, 2014
Sipp's third walk was probably his most criminal. Eric Sogard was clearly going to concede an out to move Reddick and Parrino up 90 feet. Both Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo on the radio were wondering whether Sipp should have been pulled not just after Sogard's plate appearance, but also at 2-0 against Coco Crisp, because he clearly did not have it.
Against Jose Veras, the A's finished the deed. Josh Donaldson hit his second RBI double of the game, scoring Andy Parrino and Eric Sogard, and Derek Norris lined a single to right to score Coco Crisp and Donaldson. When it was all said-and-done, the A's had scored five times and batted around to take an 8-2 lead.
Eric O'Flaherty, closer...ish
Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty had been warming up to take the ninth inning. There had been a great deal of chatter about him taking on the role with Sean Doolittle on the disabled list, though it will be interesting to see how the A's handle back-to-back save situations given his recovery from Tommy John Surgery.
In any event, it was not the cleanest possible inning for O'Flaherty, despite his 1.35 ERA in 13⅓ innings coming into tonight. With one out, Marwin Gonzalez reached third base when Josh Reddick mis-played a ball to right field that was scored a double, though it appeared Gonzalez may have been slowing at first base and waiting to see how Reddick handled the ball. O'Flaherty then walked Jonathan Singleton in four pitches.
The end came when Matt Dominguez grounded to Josh Donaldson, who turned a nifty 5-4-3 double play to preserve the 8-2 score.
Josh Reddick continued to show some of what he had batting in 2012. Besides the two-run home run, Reddick walked twice, and his sole out was a fly ball to left that came just short of the Crawford Boxes.
Brandon Moss had two bloop singles tonight, he'll take anything at this point.
Josh Donaldson had the best line of the day: two doubles, a single, hit by a pitch, a stolen base, and three RBI.
As I click publish, the Marlins lead the Angels 7-0 in the seventh inning, and look to be tied atop the AL West once again by the end of tonight. For the A's, it's 5:10 PM tomorrow again as Jason Hammel tries to find his groove against Dallas Kuechel.
I'll also have an overview of the upcoming roster maneuvers, including a look at whose place Drew Pomeranz will take for his start on Wednesday. Until then!