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Game #93: A’s Khrush Houston, 8-3

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
Khris Davis drove in the first two runs in tonight’s contest to give the A’s the early lead and extend his hitting streak to 13 games
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Khris “Khrush” Davis’ drove in three runs with a pair of extra base hits, Chad Pinder’s walloped a three run homer and Chris Bassitt did just enough to hold the Astros offense down, allowing the A’s to take game three of this four game series, 8-3, in front of a sell-out crowd at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

***Click Here for Tonight’s GameThread ***

In the first three seasons the A’s competed against the Astros in the American League West (2013-2015), the A’s absolutely owned the Astros. In fact in their first season competing in the same division together (2013), the A’s won the season series 15-4! The A’s were thorougly in the heads of Bo Porter and Houston. Then late in the 2016 season, the Astros swept home and home series from the A’s and reversed the physical and psychological advantage Oakland had on them. Since that 2016 summer, it seems like the boys in Green and Gold have been dominated by the ‘Stros in every facet of the game. In fact heading into this week’s series, the A’s had dropped 8 of 9 against Houston in this season’s matchup and lost 26 of 34 games against the Astros since those fateful late summer 2016 games.

Then came this series. The A’s have not only shown they can compete against Houston, they have shown that they can consistently beat the reigning World Champs. Could this be a signal of the tides changing in the AL West? Athletics Nation sure hopes so.

A’s starter, Chris Bassitt (2-3) went 5 innings (85 pitches), allowing 3 runs on 5 hits to get the win for Oakland on “Replica World Series Ring” night in Houston. In Bassitt’s first 5 starts of the 2018 season, the A’s offense scored a grand total of 3 runs while he was on the mound. Tonight, the A’s scored 3 runs for Bassitt after 6 batters. This was mainly due to Khris Davis’ clutch one out double to plate Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie who had both walked off of Lance McCullers Jr (10-4). Davis’ double extended his career high hit streak to 13 games. After a Stephen Piscotty single moved Davis to third, Matt Chapman delivered a sacrifice fly to score the A’s third run of the inning and give Bassitt his first cushion of his 2018 season.

Bassit set down the first 8 of the first 9 Houston batters he faced, not allowing a hit until the 4th inning. Speaking of the 4th inning, that is when the A’s scored next, thanks to utilityman extraordinare, Chad Pinder. On a 0-2 pitch, here is what Pinder did:

Pinder’s homer was his 9th on the season and for those of us too lazy to look it up (or remember stats) on our own, here is the A’s homerun leader board so far for in 2018:

  1. Khrush Davis: 21
  2. Matt Olson: 19
  3. Jed Lowrie: 16
  4. Mark Canha and Stephen Piscotty: 11
  5. Matt Chapman: 10
  6. Chad Pinder: 9

The Astros answered back in the bottom of the 4th on a Yuli Gurriel single that drove home Jacob Bregman and Jose Altuve, to cut the A’s lead to 6-2. With the sellout crowd shifting the momentum and the Astros threating with nobody out, Bassit dug down and composed himself retiring Josh Reddick on a flyball and Evan Gattis and Preston Tucker on goundouts to quiet the ‘Stros rally and keep the A’s up by four runs. Speaking of Gattis, neutralizing him so far in this series has been a real key. Everyone knows Altuve, Springer and Brugman are going to get their share of hits. The key is to hold down guys like Evan “Babe Ruth” Gattis who torched the A’s for 10 RBI’s in back to back games in Oakland earlier this season. So far in this series, Oakland pitching has retired Gattis 13 consecutive times. Kudos to the A’s staff (and advance scouts) for figuring out how to get the bearded lumberjack out.

Bassitt and a trio of relivers (Emilio Pagan for two innings, Ryan Dull for an inning and Ryan Buchter for an inning) held the Astros offense to 3 runs on 7 hits on the evening. Although the A’s had a very unlucky 11th inning last night, overall they have been very lucky to face the Astros in a week where they are missing the key bats of shortstop Carlos Correa (10 Day DL), catcher Brian McCann (10 Day DL) and utility player, Marwin Gonzales (day-to-day). But with Bassitt being the 12th starting pitcher to start a game for the A’s this season, forgive BoMel and the boys for not feeling much sympathy.

Melvin was hoping to give A’s first baseman Matt Olson a breather tonight (back tightness), but unfortunately, Olson had to enter the game in the Bottom of the 5th after Stephen Piscotty was forced out with a right wrist contusion after being hit in the hand by a Lance McCullers Jr. 85 mph changeup. The good news is that early reports indicate Piscotty will be okay:

With the A’s dodging a bullet on Piscotty’s injury, the one injury item to come out today that isn’t as positive comes from the A’s minor league system where A’s Top Prospect, Catcher, Sean Murphy, will miss the All-Star Futures Game this Sunday and perhaps the rest of the season with a broken “Jose Canseco” bone (hamate bone).

With the A’s in command, leading 6-3, conventional wisdom said the team still needed a few runs to ensure closer Blake Treinen would get the night off. Enter one Khrush Davis yet again:

The A’s tacked on an 8th run for good measure in the 9th inning off Astros rookie lefthander, Cionel Perez who was making his MLB debut (and had the game delayed for a necklace malfunction). The A’s plated this 9th inning run on a Chapman single, a Pinder walk and a RBI single from catcher, Josh Phegley.

So after 3 games in Houston, the A’s have taken 2 of 3 and have the return of Trevor Cahill tomorrow morning for the finale from Houston (Gametime tomorrow is at 12:10pm PST).

A’s Nation, lots to be excited about, the best team in baseball since June 16th (18-6) is your Oakland A’s!