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Game #72: Astros Quiet A's Bats, 5-1

Houston strings together 5 hits in the top of the 6th inning to plate 3 runs off A's starter, Sean Manaea. Astros starter Mike Fiers and 4 relievers would hold the lead from there, as the Astros took their 3rd consecutive game of the 4 game series in Oakland.

The A's Offense continues to struggle against the Astros this week in Oakland
The A's Offense continues to struggle against the Astros this week in Oakland
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The A's dropped their 9th consecutive game to the visiting Astros tonight (0-5 at home against the 'Stros in 2017) and fell to a season worst 17 1/2 games behind the front running club from Houston.

***Read Tonight's Gamethread and Comments Here***

Both of tonight's starting pitchers, the A's, Sean Manaea (5 wins in last 6 starts) and the Astros Mike Fiers (3 wins in last 4 starts) came into tonight's game pitching well and true to form, the game was a scoreless pitchers duel until top of the 6th inning.

In that fateful inning, Jose Altuve would start things off (who else would you expect?) with a line drive single and would advance to 3rd with agressive baserunning on a single from Carlos Correa (who advanced on an ill-advised throw from A's Centerfielder, Jaycob Brugman, trying to get the speedy Altuve at 3rd base).  Both runners would be plated home on an 0-2 single from A's killer, Evan Gattis.  In fact 4 of the 5 hits Manaea would give up in the inning came with 2 strikes as he struggled to find the right location and pitch in the inning to put away the Astros pesky line-up.  Overall Manaea pitched well (6 innings, 99 pitches, 7 hits allowed, 3 runs, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts) and continues to be the A's most consistent and best starter in 2017. He deserved better in this start.

Sadly, the A's offense once again couldn't get anything going against the Astros pitching.  In the first 3 games of the this 4 game series, the green and gold offense has mustered a meager 6 runs on 16 hits and racked up 29 strikeouts. Not pretty.  After 72 games the A's have the lowest team batting average in the American League (.241 entering tonight's contest) and the worst team batting average in baseball with runners and scoring postion (.226 entering tonight).  Tonight's game only confirmed those numbers as the team went 0-5 with runners in scoring position and grounded into 3 rally killing double plays.

The good news tonight for the A's?  I had to really dig, but here is what I came up with...

5 good things about tonight's game:

#1 - Sean Manaea is Legit- Facing a Astros line-up that makes a pitcher work for every out, Manaea was dominant through 5 innings and would finish with 8 strikeouts.  Manaea is proving to be worth the Zobrist trade of 2015, it is fun to see him growing in confidence with every outing.

#2 - Ryan Madson is Quiely Having a Solid Season -  He hasn't allowed a run in 10 of his last 12 appearances and had another clean inning tonight.  It seems like a lock that Madson will be traded before the July 31st trade deadline and his impressive season so far is raising the price on the prospects that A's will get for him.

#3 - I Believe in Stephen Vogt in the Outfield? Vogt played the Outfield in the 8th and 9th innings - He looked better than half the Outfielders the A's have run out there this season!

Vogt pitch hit for Rajai Davis in the 7th, drove home a run on a fielder's choice, then borrowed a teammate's glove and headed out to the green grass of left field, where he nonchalantly one handed the first flyball hit his way.

#4 - The A's only have to play the Astros 11 more times this season - Actually this is terrible news, but the silver lining is one of the dates is a double header in Oakland (Saturday, September 9th to make up for a  April rainout).  A double header on a fall Saturday in the Bay Area?!  Count me in!  Even if it is against the pesky and annoying Astros, this is a game we should all circle on our calendar's as a day to be at the ballpark!

#5 - Thanks to Kara Tsuboi, the A's Family Grew This Week!

Tsuboi, the A's in-game stadium reporter, announced via twitter during the game tonight the great news that her daughter, Ulla was born on 6/19. Congratulations Kara and family!  Ulla, don't get discouraged by all of these 2017 losses, the A's best days are still ahead!