The A’s dropped the third and final game of the three game series in Houston today, 5-4, on a walk-off 9th inning homerun, by Astros first basemen, Tyler White. Other than a bad eighth inning on Monday Night, the A’s played toe to toe with the defending World Series champs throughout the series and the next month is set up to be an exciting dash to the division crown for both ballclubs. Next up is Seattle and the next man up is Frankie Montas, who takes the hill for the A’s tomorrow night back in Oakland.
Astros Draw First Blood Today
George Springer led off the bottom of the first with a single. He was followed by Alex Bregman (who has really gotten under my skin in this series) who bunted to A’s third basemen, Matt Chapman. Chapman barehanded the bunted ball and made one of his (super)normal acrobatic throws to first, but threw wide of the bag. Olson couldn’t keep it in front of him and Chapman was charged with an error and both runners advanced, putting runners on second and third with nobody out. Jose Altuve batted next and singled home Springer on a 2-0 fastball to make the score 1-0, Astros. Carlos Correa, hitting clean-up, hit a sacrifice fly to left, to record the first out of the inning and plate the Astros second run. Cahill walked the next hitter, Tyler White, but induced a double play off the bat of Yuriel Gurriel to escape the inning with only two runs allowed.
Laureano With Another Defensive Highlight
Matt Chapman has a new rival in the daily defensive highlight reel contest. Ramon Laureano made a great play last night in the 8th inning, to perserve the tie in throwing out George Springer on a bang-bang play at third. Today, he saved extra bases off the bat of Tony Kemp with this amazing catch.
A’s Bats Wake Up in the Third Inning
After both teams went scoreless in the second inning, Marcus Semien led off the top of the third inning with a single to right field. It was an excellent piece of hitting by Semien, who came into the game struggling (3 for 22 on the road trip). The Astros were shifted for Semien to pull and Marcus grounded a innocent ground ball into the gap between first and second to put a runner on with nobody out. The lead-off single inspired the A’s as the next hitter Matt Chapman, also went opposite field, singling to rightfield to place runners on the corners. Jed Lowrie batting right, jumped on the first pitch he saw from Dallas Kuechel and singled to left, to score Semien and move Chapman to third. Stephen Piscotty batting in the fourth slot for Bob Melvin and the A’s today came up next and did this:
Piscotty’s double (his 36th two bagger of the season) plated two runs and gave the A’s the lead, 3-2.
Cahill Struggles with His Control and Shawn Kelly Saves Yet Another Inning
After giving up the two first inning runs, Trevor Cahill kept the Astros off the board in the second (thanks to Laureano) and third innings In the fourth, he ran into trouble again. A walk to Gurriel, a single to backup catcher and former A’s prospect, Max Stassi, and a walk to Tony Kemp loaded the bases with one out. George Springer came up next and singled home a run to tie the game at 3-3. Still with only one out, Alex Bregman batted and drew the count to 3-2. Cahill threw a gutsy breaking ball that just missed the inside corner of the plate (the pitch could have been called a strike just as easily as it was called a ball).
The run was forced in and Cahill’s day was over (3 1⁄3 innings, five hits, 4 runs, 3 earned, six walks and two strikeouts). The damage could have been worse, but A’s reliever, Shawn Kelly shut the door emphatically on the Astros, striking out Jose Altuve with the bases loaded and then getting Correa to bounce into a force out to end the inning. After 4 innings the Astros were leading 4-3. Kelly’s contribution to the A’s since he was acquired on August 5th (8 innings, 2 hits, 8 strikeouts), cannot be understated, he has made a huge impact in his middle relief role.
Astros Experience Their Own Wild Problems
With the score 4-3 Astros in the top of the seventh, reliever, Brad Peacock entered the game for Dallas Kuechel (6 innings, 8 hits, 3 runs, 5 K’s). Peacock got Semien to fly out to begin the inning and then suddenly lost control, walking Chapman, Lowrie and Khris Davis to load the bases for the A’s with one out. Stephen Piscotty stepped up and was promptly hit by a 2-0 fastball, to force in a run for the A’s and tie the game at 4. Peacock was relieved by lefty specialist Tony Sipp to face the lone lefty in the A’s lineup, Matt Olson. Olson got the count in his favor at 2-0 with the bases loaded, before just missing a 93 mph cookie of a fastball, fouling it off (what could have been!). Sipp snuck another fastball past Olson before getting him to pop out to Altuve in foul territory. Now with two outs, AJ Hinch would go back to his bullpen to grab a righty to face Chad Pinder. BoMel countered with lefty pitch hitter, Nick Martini, last night’s hero. Martini grounded out to second to end the A’s threat, stranding the bases loaded and keeping the score at 4-4.
Battle of the
Ryan Dull (called up when Brett Anderson went on the 10 Day DL) threw two scoreless innings in relief of Shawn Kelley. Lou Trivino pitched a scoreless seventh despite flirting with danger, stranding runners on second and third. On the Astros side, Joe Smith pitched a 1 1⁄3 innings of scoreless and hitless relief to take the game into the bottom of the 8th inning still tied at 4. Fernando Rodney was called upon to pitch the eighth inning and walked the speedy Tony Kemp to lead-off the inning (did anyone else pop a few TUMS during today’s game??!). With the hometown crowd urging the Astros to score, Rodney calmly induced a double play from George Springer. Danger averted! Not quite as Alex “man he is annoying” Bregman flicked yet another double to left to put a runner in scoring position with two outs and the best hitter in baseball, Jose Altuve due next. Bob Melvin and the A’s had a decision to make. With first base open, should they walk Altuve (.327 average) and face Carlos Correa (.250 average)? Conventional wisdom said, walk Altuve and take your chances with Correa. BoMel thumbed his nose as coventional wisdom and decided to have Rodney pitch to Altuve. Rodney quickly fell behind 2-0 before evening the count at 2-2. The 41 year old veteran the dug down into yesteryear and found in his bag of tricks, a 98 mph fastball on the inside corner to freeze Altuve and get strike three. The A’s bullpen once again proved invaluable in this game posting 4 2⁄3 innings of scoreless relief up to this point.
9th Inning: Osuna vs. Familia
With one out in the top of the 9th inning, Jed Lowrie crushed a line drive double to right to place the go ahead run on second. Roberto Osuna, last night’s losing pitcher than faced Khris Davis and struck him out for out number two and then did the same to Stephen Piscotty, striking him out to end the A’s scoring chance and take the game to the bottom of the ninth.
Jeurys Familia entered the game for the A’s next, the sixth Oakland pitcher of the afternoon. Familia retired Correa for out number one and quickly got ahead of Astros firstbasemen, Tyler White 0-2. White fouled off a 98 mph fastball to stay alive and then the unfortunate happened, a hanging slider that White didn’t miss. White homered to the crawford boxes in leftfield to send the Astros to the walk-off win and the A’s to the disappointing 5-4 loss.
Tomorrow is a New (Montas) Day
The A’s find themselves 2.5 games out of first place in the A.L. West behind the Astros, but won’t have much time to dwell on it, as the team jumps on a charter this evening and heads back to Oakland. They will face the Mariners (who are currently losing 7-1 to the Padres in the 7th inning, at the time of this writing) for four games beginnning tomorrow night with Frankie Montas (5-3, 3.75 ERA) rejoining the team to start for the Green and Gold.
Let’s pack the Colisuem, fire up the horns, drums, banjo’s and “Let’s Go Oakland” chants and support this team in a crucial homestand!