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Game #26: Homer-Happy A’s Rout Keuchel, Astros

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The A’s break the Friday night curse in grand style

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Relive all the gamethread fun here as Manaea sets the Oakland A’s record for 14 no-hit innings in a row.

So here’s the story.

Our fearless heroes, the A’s of Oakland, led by tonight’s starting pitcher Sean Manaea, are red, red-hot, winning eight of the last ten games entering tonight’s contest and all Manaea did his last time out was throw a no-hitter against the best team in baseball.

However.

It’s Friday night. The A’s are 0-for-Friday this season (0-4 in total). They are facing off against the Houston Astros, the defending World Champions, who are every bit as challenging as the Red Sox, and their starting pitcher, Dallas Keuchel, who is every bit as unhittable as Sean Manaea.

I expected a lot of things. A no-hitter on either side; perhaps a perfect game to mix it up; but things could also go the other way, as well. How would Manaea react his first game off the no-hitter? Would the A’s defense tighten things up? Would the A’s baserunners make more outs at third? And more importantly, could the A’s manage a single hit off Keuchel?

It’s safe to say I did not see tonight coming. Despite not recording their first hit until the fifth inning, the A’s pounded out 10 hits and 8 runs in the back half of this game; 7 and 6 off Keuchel himself, helped by three home runs and nearly a fourth.

So a quick read-through of the game thread shows I wasn’t the only one who was afraid of a no-hitter hangover against an extremely good Astros team, but to all of our surprise and delight, Sean Manaea came out and continued what he started on Saturday night; he didn’t allow a hit until one out in the fourth inning (which was before Keuchel). Indeed, both pitchers had perfect games through three innings; the tone set early on, as both leadoff hitters struck out on three pitches. It was at this point when I was settling in for a long (or short!) night.

The first baserunner of the game was George Springer in his second turn through the lineup, reaching base by no fault of Manaea’s. It was Marcus Semien’s errant throw leading off the fourth inning and the absolute one time when the headfirst dive into first base was the preferred--and only--way to reach base safely. One out later, the resulting first hit of the game led to the first run of the game for the Astros as Piscotty bobbled the ball on the pick up. To sum up a) The runner at first shouldn’t have been on base, b) he certainly shouldn’t have advanced to second on a fly ball to right field and c) he likely should have been thrown out at the plate. It is at this point I could expound on the A’s defense and baserunning, or maybe make a comment about how hard the Houston outs were during this game, but I’m not. I’m going to enjoy EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of this unexpected awesome win and continue with the celebration.

Trailing an unhittable pitcher 1-0, the A’s took their turn at bat in the top of the fifth, where their first hit was an utter smash by Matt Chapman, tying the game.

If you were going to point to a single inning in the game as the swing, it would be the bottom of the fifth, top of the sixth, where the A’s took over the game and never gave it back. The Astros’ second hit was also unusual, as Josh Reddick offered a drag bunt down the first base line with one out in the fifth. Olson picked up the bunt, but Manaea, falling off the mound the other way, was unable to cover the bag in time for the out. The Astros’ third hit was even more unusual, as with two outs, Manaea tried to field his position, and to quote Hector from Coco, “Oh. Oh, that’s such a sweet sentiment...at such a bad time!” Instead of the ball rolling right to Jed Lowrie for the third out, it skipped off Manaea and ended up in the field. Reddick ended up at third (probably should have tried to score) and Springer at first, bringing up Jose Altuve who is practically perfect in every way with men on base. Manaea battled him and won, keeping the game tied as we now cruised to the sixth.

Piscotty’s leadoff single was erased by a Keuchel special; a ground-ball double-play by Lucroy for the two quick outs. But the A’s continued to battle Keuchel, and after a Semien single, Chad Pinder absolutely crushed a home run to left field to give the A’s the 3-1 lead.

The seventh inning was even better than the sixth, as a one-out Matt Chapman double set the table for one of Matt Olson’s best at-bats of the year, working a RBI single for the A’s fourth run. He’s not a Matt, but he is a Mark; the newly-resurgent Mark Canha then hit his own home run, barely escaping Springer’s glove to give the A’s two more.

Just for good measure, the A’s tacked on two show-off runs in the eighth, as an overturned call put Marcus Semien on first with a single; Pinder followed with his own, and Jed Lowrie came an inch from hitting the A’s fourth home run, but he settled for his first triple instead, scoring both runs to give the A’s the final 8-1 win.

After Manaea exited after seven awesome innings, tagged with zero earned runs, four hits and seven strikeouts, Dull pitched the eighth and Casilla, a perfect ninth.

And that’s how you win on a Friday night! Let’s go get the series tomorrow. Game time 4:10PM, Daniel Mengden vs. Lance McCullers Jr.

baseballgirl OUT (and happy!)