Timely hitting by the A's bats, great defense by Josh Reddick, and bend-but-don't break pitching by Kendall Graveman and the A's bullpen lead the A's to a 4-0 victory over Houston. It's the A's fourth shutout of the young season (in just five wins!). More importantly, the A's are beating up on the Astros, and all is once again right with the world.
Normally at this point in the season, your team has a fresh bullpen, live arms, and everyone is begging to get in the game. Not the Astros, apparently. After using their projected fifth starter in long relief yesterday, Brad Peacock was called up from Fres(yes) to Houston to face his former squad.
The A's looked like they might continue the piling on from yesterday at the outset. Sam Fuld started the game with a ringing double down the leftfield line (he had two doubles for the game and is now hitting an amazing .375). He advanced and scored on a groundout and a sacrifice fly, and the A's had a quick 1-0 lead. After that, Peacock quieted down.
The Graveman versus Peacock matchup was the pitchers' duel that wasn't. Both starters couldn't complete six innings, due mainly to wildness. I suppose Peacock had that "effectively wild" thing going. A's hitters looked tentative and contact was mostly weak as it was unclear what would be thrown and where it would go. He did flash a nice slider and perhaps may make it in the big leagues eventually.
Graveman had a sort of mirror image outing, save for the run allowed. He made a couple of mistake pitch sinkers right down the pipe but was able to avoid disaster. He allowed four hits and four walks, but induced some timely double plays when needed. "No one draws up the game plan of allowing eight baserunners over 5⅓ innings without allowing a run. Regardless, I doubt he cares about style points at the moment; he's celebrating his first major league victory. The bowling ball sinker got the groundballs when he needed them, and he outdid Peacock.
Peacock couldn't make it past the fifth. He came out to start the sixth and immediately walked Ben Zobrist. Billy Butler continued his tear, knocking in Zobrist with a double, extending his hitting streak to nine games (yes, Country Breakfast has been served at every game this season) and giving the A's a 2-0 lead.
Previously failed manager AJ Hinch made a call to the bullpen for Joe Thatcher, part of the revamped Astros' staff. Thatcher promptly allowed a single to [I believe in] Stephen Vogt to put the A's up 3-0.
Eric O'Flaherty managed to have a smooth 1⅔ innings, but the A's bullpen would not be without drama. In the 8th, normally reliable Dan Otero continued his rough start to the year, allowing two singles. He was pulled in favor of the lefty-lefty matchup: Fernando Abad vs. Jason Castro.
Abad pitch was made, but Josh Reddick had an otherworldly jump and ran down the screaming liner off Castro's bat, making it look easy.
The A's tacked on an insurance run in the ninth, based almost entirely on Brett Lawrie's hustle. After being grittily hit by a pitch, Lawrie stole second without a throw. That gave the A's their first stolen bag on the season, and Lawrie's first in two years. He hustled home on a base hit by Josh Reddick, and then proceeded to double fist two 16 ounce Rockstars.*
Clippard had a relatively uneventful ninth, and the A's found themselves amidst their first winning streak of the year.
In the games the A's have won, they have outscored their opponents 42-1. I have no idea what this stat means, but it's damn cool. I do know that they've outscored the Astros 12-1 and they are going for the sweep tomorrow. Reminds me of 2013 all over again.
*may not have actually happened