My mom always told me it's better to yank a band-aid off quickly to get the pain out of way, so lets briskly get through the negatives in today's game. Scott Feldman hadn't won in the Coliseum since 2009, sporting a career 5.85 ERA against Oakland. But this season the A's have had a tendency to make mediocre pitchers look dynamite, and today was just one of those days. Feldman had a 1-2-3 first, third, and sixth innings, entering the seventh having allowed only 2 hits and nary an Oakland baserunner to reach third base.
The A's quite simply looked anemic against Feldman the first six innings, but that would change in the seventh. With one out Ike Davis would single to center before a Josh Reddick walk. With two on and one out, that brought up Max Muncy making his MLB debut. Muncy was hitless in his first two at-bats, but to the delight of the crowd he would smash a single up the middle for his first career Major League hit. The bases were now loaded for Cody Ross, but he hit a ground ball to third baseman Luis Valbuena . Off the bat this looked like a sure double-pay, but Muncy slid hard into second base preventing Jose Altuve's relay to first and allowing Davis to score. After a pitching change, Eric Sogard then tripled to right center scoring Reddick and Ross. Oakland had three runs on the board all due to Muncy's fantastic effort to prevent the double play.
But I'm not taking my mom's advice here, am I? The band-aid is coming off one painfully plucked hair at a time, because despite the excitement of Sogard's triple, the Astros were still up 8-3 at this point. Yes, due to poor pitching and Bad News Bears style defense by the A's the Astros were up eight runs by the mid-seventh.
Kendall Graveman was already on thin ice entering today's contest, but today he all but confirmed his ticket to AAA Nashville. Graveman induced three ground-ball outs all day allowing numerous hard hit balls for six earned runs in 4.2 innings. That being said, his teammates didn't do him any favors. In the first, with Valbuena on second and two outs, Jed Lowrie hit a hard liner to center field. Sam Fuld had a great bead on the ball, but it bounced right off the heel of his glove allowing Valbuena to score. The official scorer made this a double, but really this should have been the A's first error of the game.
The second was just a poor inning for Graveman. After a rare leadoff walk to Chris Carter, Marwin Gonzalez singled. With two on Robbie Grossman struck-out swinging, but Gravemen badly hung a ball into Altuve's wheelhouse that Altuve sent sailing into the left-field stairs. Score now 4-0 Astros. After a 1-2-3 fourth, which was Graveman's second 1-2-3 inning all season, he ran into trouble again in the fifth. Altuve and Valbuena quickly made it two outs, but Graveman gave up three consecutive 2-out hits to George Springer, Lowrie, and Colby Rasmus to put the score at 5-0 Astros.
Chris Bassitt then came on in relief of Graveman with two outs, runners on the corners. This was Bassitt's Oakland debut, but unfortunately his first pitch was wild, allowing Lowrie to score. He then plunked Chris Carter before inducing a pop-out from Jason Castro. This was an inauspicious beginning to Bassitt's Oakland career, but he soon made up for it with a 1-2-3 sixth. Bassitt would eventually finish the game for the A's, going 4.1 innings with one earned, three strikeouts, and one walk.
At this point you may be checking your math wondering how Graveman's six earned plus Bassitt's one earned equal nine runs for the Astros. To answer your question we look no further than the top of the seventh where the Astros were able to load the bases without a hit. Valbuena led off the inning and hit an easy popup to right-field. It was the proverbial can-of-corn, but on a day when nothing seemed to go right for the A's, Reddick of all people dropped the easy fly ball. After a Lowrie walk, Rasmus hit a fly ball to short left center. Both Marcus Semien and Cody Ross made a play on the ball. As the pop-up descended it seemed Ross may have unintentionally called off Semien, because when Semien veered off of the play Ross suddenly stumbled forward in a feeble attempt at the ball. The ball would drop, of course, eventually leading to two more Astros runs. At 8-0 Astros, this may be characterized as the lowest point of the A's season to date.
The top of the ninth saw some excitement. Springer hit a laser over the right-center wall for his second home run of the year. More importantly, Muncy made two great defensive plays. He robbed Carter of a hit by snagging a line-drive out of the air and made an over-the-shoulder catch deep in foul territory. This Max Muncy shows a lot of promise.
All-in-all an ugly loss, but the mostly successful debuts for Max Muncy and Chris Bassitt should give us something to be positive about.
Tomorrow the A's send Drew Pomeranz to the mound against . . . hold on, give me a second; Asher Wojciechowski. And I thought writing today's recap was tough. Good luck with that one, praunlinde.
- Jose Altuve extended his hit-streak against the A's to 28 games.
- The A's are now 0-6 in day games this season.