Today's Athletics story is one of doing more than enough to lose with the A's dropping the final game of the series--Astros 6, Athletics 1--and falling to 14-28. Initially, the A's had their chances against the early favorite for the American League Cy Young award and gave him plenty of traffic on the bases.
The A's went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, however, and no runs scored on the hit because it came with Billy Butler on second base. Butler actually did manage to score from second once, but it was on a Chris Carter error.
Jesse Hahn did well enough this afternoon, satisfying the minimum requirement for a quality start in giving up three runs in six innings and avoided letting the game get too far away from him. Dan Otero even looked great in his first inning of work, retiring the seventh inning side in eight pitches while striking out two. Unfortunately, he allowed three runs in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach for the Athletics.
There were a number of good individual performances from the A's on the offensive side of the ledger. Brett Lawrie was today's offensive star by going three-for-four with a double. Billy Butler reached three times today, twice on walks and once on a single. Marcus Semien, Stephen Vogt, and Eric Sogard each had a single today while Sam Fuld drew a pinch-hit walk in the ninth.
On the negative side:
- Billy Burns: 0-for-5 with two strikeouts
- Josh Reddick: 0-for-4 with two strikeouts
- Mark Canha: 0-for-4 with a strikeout
- Craig Gentry: 0-for-3
Dallas Keuchel is a ground ball pitcher
I think Dallas Keuchel is going to win the American League Cy Young award. For the first time, Keuchel has a defense behind him that is able to handle the ground balls Keuchel induces, and an offense to give him the wins that tend to be required for the award. Thirteen of the 17 outs on balls in play were on ground balls. Those ground balls are also how he worked his way out of a couple of jams this afternoon in Houston:
- 1st inning: With Marcus Semien at second, Brett Lawrie grounds to short for a fielder's choice.
- 2nd: Three ground balls, including two to the defending American League Gold Glove winner.
- 3rd: Two ground balls and a strikeout.
- 4th: Two ground ball outs and a Josh Reddick fly ball to left. First, with the bases loaded, Mark Canha grounded to Keuchel, who forced Billy Butler out at home. Canha barely beat the relay to first to keep the inning alive, but Craig Gentry grounded out to short one batter later.
- 5th: Two ground ball outs and a Billy Burns liner to left thanks to the shortest outfield you will ever see played in a major league game.
- 6th: Just one ground ball out, the last of the inning with Brett Lawrie at second base. The official scorer says Keuchel needed four outs to get out of the inning, though Carter's play on a ball to his right was pretty tough and still would have needed a good throw to a covering Keuchel to retire Mark Canha.
- 7th: Two ground ball outs that advanced Eric Sogard to second and then to third, but Josh Reddick struck out looking to end the inning.
Dallas Keuchel plus a good-to-great infield defense is usually going to equal a win.
The A's can't keep the Astros off the board
Houston's scoring began with a single run in the third. Marwin Gonzalez led off with a double following two hitless innings by Jesse Hahn. After a wild pitch that Josh Phegley perhaps could have blocked, Jake Marisnick drove in Gonzalez. It could have been more if Marisnick had not been caught stealing third base in what might have been a case of missed signs; he was out by five feet on Phegley's throw.
Hahn then went on to retire nine consecutive Astros but ran into trouble with two outs in the sixth. George Springer reached on a single to right and Evan Gattis launched a deep drive to the train tracks in left field to make the score 3-1:
Dan Otero relieved Hahn in the seventh and pitched an eight-pitch inning that was a very characteristic Dan-O inning, with a ground ball to second and two strikeouts. It ran his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 6⅔.
That streak ended in the eighth, however. Luis Valbuena, George Springer, and Jonathan Villar all scored after Otero conceded three hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly. Arnold Leon closed up the eighth without allowing any further damage, the A's trailing 6-1.
Get here soon Wash
Marcus Semien bounced both of his throws to first this afternoon. Mark Canha could not dig out the first throw with two out in the second inning, resulting in Semien's 16th error of the campaign and Oakland's 44th. Jesse Hahn threw six extra pitches to strike out Jason Castro, however. Canha successfully dug out Semien's other bounced throw in the fourth.
Oakland visits St. Petersburg, Florida for four against the Tampa Bay Rays. Thursday's first game starts at 4:10 PM Pacific Time. But today's final it's the Astros 6, Athletics 1.