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Game #94: A’s take series from Astros, have now won 19 of their last 24 games

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A’s once again win in comeback fashion

Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros
Mark Canha delivered the game and series winning hit against the Astros on Thursday.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Once again the Oakland A’s came back late in the game to win it and take the four-game series from the reigning World Champion Houston Astros three games to one. The A’s have been so hot lately that they have won more games than any other team in baseball since June 16, having won 19 of their last 24 games.

The Early Scoring Astros:

The Astros took an early lead against A’s starter Trevor Cahill. It was Cahill’s first start after being activated off of the disabled list earlier this morning. He had been out for about a month with a right Achilles strain. Still, he looked pretty good at first not allowing a hit in his first two innings of work and facing just one batter over the minimum, allowing a walk to Evan Gattis in the second.

Unfortunately, the third didn’t exactly go in Cahill’s favor. He got his second strikeout of the day against Max Stassi to begin the bottom of the third, but it was a six-pitch at-bat and Cahill had to work for that third strike. He then walked both Tony Kemp and George Springer which added on to his pitch count, as he threw six pitches and eight pitches in the at-bats, respectively. With one out, now facing Alex Bregman, Cahill threw a wild pitch that allowed Kemp and Springer to move to second and third. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Bregman took an 87 MPH cut-fastball and drove it into left field allowing both base runners to score. Cahill took another 11 pitches to get out of the inning, allowing a single to Yuri Gurriel, but getting both Jose Altuve to line-out and Josh Reddick to fly out. When all was said and done, the A’s were down two runs and Cahill’s pitch count had 36 pitches added to it. He had only needed 31 pitches to escape the first two innings of the game but now going into the fourth inning his count was starting to get high.

In the bottom of the fourth, Cahill managed to get the first two batters, Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez, out but not before throwing another 12 pitches. He allowed a single to Max Stassi before A’s skipper Bob Melvin decided he’d thrown enough pitches (83) on his first day off of the disabled list and went to the bullpen, calling on Chris Hatcher. Hatcher immediately allowed a two-run homer to Kemp that scored the last of the Astros’ runs for the day. Cahill then ended his outing having gone 3.2 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and three walks while striking out three (that’s A LOT of threes right there, huh?). For the remainder of the game the A’s stellar bullpen held down the fort so the offense could do its thing in the later innings. Hatcher, Yusmeiro Petit, Ryan Bucther and Lou Trivino, who earned his fourth save of the season, held the Astros to just Kemp’s home run and a pair of walks.

The Late Scoring A’s:

As has been the norm lately, with their bullpen to back them up, the A’s offense made another late-inning comeback to win the game and, in this case, the series. The A’s closed the 4-0 gap in the fifth inning, putting three runs on the board. With Astros’ starter Charlie Morton still on the mound, Chad Pinder and Mark Canha opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Morton then issued a walk to Jonathan Lucroy and allowed a two-RBI double to Nick Martini, followed by an RBI-single to Stephen Piscotty, before being replaced by former-starter-turned-long-reliever Collin McHugh. Morton also had thrown quite a lot of pitches in the game and his day ended with 104 pitches with one out in the fifth. McHugh got the Astros out of the inning despite issuing a walk to Matt Olson but the damage had been done and the A’s were back in the game.

In the eighth inning (go figure, as that just seems normal now, doesn’t it?) with right-hander Chris Devenski on the mound, Khris Davis singled to start the top of the inning, taking his hitting streak to 14 games. Olson followed with a single of his own and Matt Chapman doubled to plate Davis to tie the game at four runs apiece. A batter later, Mark Canha hit a ball deep into the left field corner allowing both Olson and Chapman to score. A review was called by the Astros to make certain that Canha’s ball was fair and not foul. The call on the field was upheld (finally!) and the A’s were allowed to keep their 6-4 lead. That was all they needed with Butcher coming in to pitch the second half of the eighth and Trivino ready to pitch the bottom of the ninth.

The A’s, who really could and should have won all four games (but let’s not talk about that 11th inning on Tuesday, shall we?), showed the reigning champs just how good they can be as they waltzed into Houston taking three games and the series from the Astros in typical 2018 A’s comeback fashion.

*** Revisit Game Thread #1 and Game Thread #2 ***