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Game #68: Houston Has No Problems Against the A’s in 13-5 Victory

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics
Jake Smolinki took his turn on the hill for the A’s tonight in mop-up duty
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

***Tonight’s GameThread + Comments can be found here***

All you need to understand about how tonight’s game turned out, is to know that A’s Outfielder Jake Smolinksi, made his MLB pitching debut in the 9th inning. Smolinksi, throwing 84 mph cutters gave up a double and a homerun on his first two pitches, then settled down to retire the next three Astros hitters .

Three hours before, A’s starter Paul Blackburn could only wish for such success. Houston jumped on Blackburn early and often, scoring 3 runs in the 1st inning on 4 hits and a walk. Then they exploded for 7 more runs in the top of the 2nd inning, with 4 hits (2 singles, a double and a triple) and a walk coming off Blackburn. Then a Evan Gattis 3 run blast off reliever, Emilio Pagan, would give Blackburn an ugly linescore of 1 13 innings, 8 runs allowed on 8 hits and 2 walks. One thing to keep in mind is that Blackburn is still coming back from his right forearm strain and tonight was the equivalent of his second spring training start. Unfortunately, it came in a real game with real players and these stats count.

Speaking of stats, Houston DH, Gattis, drove in 5 RBI’s on the evening on two homeruns, giving him a total of 3 homers and 10 RBI’s in the first two games of the series. I called Gattis an ”A’s Killer” in the game preview and tonight cemented that status for the one they call, ”“El Oso Blanco” or “The White Bear.“ Susan Slusser aptly noted,

It is difficult to get too angry at Gattis. His backstory is legendary. Quit baseball in college because of anxiety and addiction. Valet parked cars in Dallas, worked at ski resorts and at Yellowstone Park. Went thru a rehab, turned his life around, went back to college and eventually made his way to the majors where he has taken some type of vow to destroy whatever pitch an Oakland A’s pitcher throws at him (For goodness sake, he has hit two homers off Danny Coulombe in 3 lifetime at-bats).

With the Astros holding a 10-0 nothing lead after two turns at bat and with Gerrit Cole on the mound, the game was essentially over. I am tempted, to go down some dark trail in the recap of how terrible Emilio Pagan is, or how worried we should be about the A’s current starting pitching depth. However, let‘s remain positive, because as theologian Chuck Swindoll once said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

So here is my attempt to find some positive things from tonight’s contest:

Postive #1 - Jed Lowrie broke out of his 0 for 17 slump with a double in the 1st inning. It was his only hit in 4 at-bats, but nice to get the “o-for“ monkey off his back and the two bagger tonight places him back in the top 20 in Doubles in all of baseball. (Let’s vote Jed into the All-Star Game!)

Positive #2 - Stephen Piscotty hit a 3 run homer, his 4th round tripper of the season

Positive #3 - Khris “Krush” Davis hit homers #18 and #19 (his MLB league leading 103rd and 104th homers since the start of the 2016season). Davis is a gift to A’s fans worldwide.
His first blast of the evening was another opposite field shot, the second a deep shot to leftfield.

Positve #4 - Liam Hendriks pitched two scoreless innings and is beginning to look like he could contribute to the bullpen

Positive #5 - Jake Smolinkski pitching performance was a bit of a circus, but he became the first Oakland A’s position player to pitch at the Colisuem in the 50 years the A’s have been in Oakland. That in itself is good for something:

On an unrelated note, it was strangely satisfying to see another A’s killer, Texas catcher, Robinson Chirinos, get a little love tap from Matt Kemp tonight:

Okay, back to positivity. Tomorrow is a new day. It is a day game and the weather at the Colisuem is predicted to be cloudy, but wonderul 73 degrees. On top of that, the A‘s will trot out promising Frankie Montas (3-0, 1.25 ERA) to the mound.

As Chuck Noland, aka, Tom Hanks states in the movie Castaway, “I know what I have to do now. I’ve got to keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”

Oh wait, who is pitching for the Astos? Some guy named Verlander? Excuse me Athletics Nation, that ends today’s positivity session, class dismissed.