Well, it took until September, but baseball is finally fun again, as the Oakland Athletics exploded in the first three games of the series against the Astros, winning last night and sweeping the doubleheader today. This afternoon, the A’s put up 11 runs against the Astros, winning 11-1 in a rollicking romp. For the first five innings of tonight’s game, I thought I had drawn the short straw; indeed, the game was a scoreless 0-0 through the first five innings. Let’s just say the odds were long on matching the earlier game’s run total. I’d also like to point out that the Astros coming into this series were the best team in the American League, so it’s not like the A’s offense was given any favors.
And then, it happened.
Down 3-0 to the Astros in the sixth, the A’s tied the game with help from an Olson home run. They lost the lead at 4-3, tied the game at 4, and then unloaded for seven more, thanks in part to a multi-homer game from Chad Pinder.
After the shellacking in the first game, as the A’s were running the bases like the game was a track meet, it was natural that it might take a while for the offense (composed of mostly the youngsters) to get warmed up. Indeed, no one had much success against Brad Peacock in his first five innings. On the other side, Daniel Mengden rolled through the Astros for the first five of his six innings, and just when things were settling into a pitchers’ duel, all of a sudden, it wasn’t.
With two outs in the sixth inning, Mengden issued a walk, which was unfortunately followed by a two-run home run to break the scoreless tie. And then Boog Powell made an error to put runner on base (second), and Reddick (still hot) singled deep to second base. The runner from second came in to score; had Maxwell hung onto the ball, the runner was out easily, but he didn’t and he wasn’t. And just like that, the A’s were down 3-0.
The deficit didn’t last long. And in a rare occurrence, everything truly came up Oakland today. The A’s made two errors in the field, and completely butchered their base-running in the sixth, and still came out ahead. Boog Powell singled to start off the inning, followed by an infield single by Chad Pinder. But not quite, as Pinder was called out by an eyelash in the subsequent review. Ryon Healy grounded to shortstop and Powell made an ill-advised run to third, where he was thrown out easily. So the A’s could have started the inning with first and second and no one out, and instead, ended up with first only and two outs. However, what base the runner is on doesn’t matter at all when a home run is hit, so Matt Olson scored two runs on his long ball.
Peacock left the game with the lead, but back-to-back doubles by Chapman and Maxwell tied the game at 3, and all knotted up, we moved to the seventh.
The A’s would lose the lead one more time because Sam Moll; a double, single and sacrifice fly turned the game Houston’s way. We’d seen quite enough of that; Moll was promptly replaced by Chris Hatcher, who got out of the inning with no further damage. And here came the A’s.
Franklin Barreto tripled with one out to set the table, and Boog Powell, who was all over this game, hit a sac fly to tie the game. And just as suddenly, SWIPE RIGHT! as Chad Pinder unloaded on a pitch; he crushed it into the stands to give the A’s their first lead of the game, one they’d not give back. Leading 5-4 and heading into the bottom of the eighth, the A’s decided not to give their bullpen a save situation.
Keep in mind, all of this happened with two outs. Maxwell singled, Canha doubled, and Wendel walked (intentionally) to load the bases. Barreto singled one in, Powell singled two in, and Chad Pinder hit a three-run homerun, and literally as easily as one, two, three, the A’s lead climbed from one to seven. And even Casilla couldn’t put a dent in that lead, even with walking the lead-off batter. He induced two double-plays; one stuck, and the game was over.
The A’s go for the nearly-unimaginable four-game sweep in tomorrow’s game. We’ll see you all back here at 1:05PM if you can drag yourselves away from the opening of football.