It was a hot day in Oakland, and the box score showed it. The usually pitcher friendly Coliseum was turned into a launching pad as the A’s and Astros combined for a total of 10 home runs, the only scoring plays in the whole game.
Chapman and Olson both had big nights, Olson giving the A’s their first lead with a big home run in the 3rd. They went Matt-to-Matt in the 6th, pushing the A’s up again. Chapman took the final A’s lead in the 8th with his second blast of the night. Also bashing for the A’s was Corban Joseph, tallying his first Major League homer, 6 years after he made his MLB debut.
*** Revisit Game Thread #1 | Game Thread #2 | Game Thread #3 ***
Fiers started out by issuing a lead-off walk to George Springer. Thankfully Jose Altuve hit his first pitch on an easy grounder to Marcus Semien, getting the classic 6-4-3 double play, and a quick pair of outs. Michael Brantley took little time after to send a roller to Corban Joseph at second, and after 9 pitches Fiers was through a clean top of the first.
The A’s offensive efforts started off with Marcus Semien hitting a liner right to Springer for the first out. Robbie Grossman would have had the first hit of the game, if Josh Reddick had not taken a perfect dive to snag the ball right as it was about to touch grass. Matt Chapman lined it to a place Reddick couldn't reach in right, singling with the 109mph screamer. Matt Olson hit an even faster 110mph ball up the middle, but Carlos Correa was able to react in time and hold on to the blistering ball on a hop, tossing to first base for the third out. Starting off the A’s got ahead of a couple pitches but the Stros defence managed to keep the inning from getting out of hand.
Few things are better than Matt Chapman making plays at third, and we were treated to it twice this inning. Alex Bregman hit a one hopper about 2 feet parallel to the foul line, and Matt caught and turned behind the bag to beat out Bregman handily. Yordan Alverez then flew out to Chapman who had booked it into shallow left field. Correa finished out the top by flying out to a running Stephen Piscotty, giving Fiers another easy inning of work.
A one pitch out for Khris Davis, hitting softly right to Gurriel. Another quick out for Piscotty, as Stephen flew out to Reddick in right after 2 pitches. Corban Joseph hit another soft grounder to the left infield, and after only 5 pitches the A’s were retired in the second.
The quick ABs continued as Yuli Gurriel hit a high fly ball to Chad Pinder in centre field on his second pitch. Testing Pinder again Robinson Chirinos hit a fly to short centre, and Chad made a great dive to get the out. All of this in his first centre field appearance. Two pitches later Reddick had grounded out to short and Fiers had another 1-2-3 inning.
Chad Pinder is a freak. This is his first game of the season in center field. #Athletics pic.twitter.com/KQiJWqkkNJ— Ben Ross (@BenRossTweets) August 16, 2019
Pinder led off the bottom by getting called out on a checked swing. Herrmann then swung through a curve for the second strikeout of the inning. The Astro defence kept punishing the Athletics, as Alex Bregman tagged down a liner from Marcus in a dive and gave a quick end to some promising contact.
Second time through the lineup for Mike, and Fiers was still in attack mode to start off the 4th. Springer got to an 0-2 count quick before turning it to an easy play for Chapman at third. Altuve then watched Fiers sail a two-seamer into the inside corner for his first strikeout of the game. Michael Brantley worked Fiers for a full count and then lined the ball up left-centre, but a sliding Pinder corralled the ball in to hold Brantley for a single. A high changeup gave the A’s their first true trouble as Bregman homered, sending the ball just over the fence in left for two runs. Alvarez hit a first pitch grounder to end the inning, but the Fiers handed out a hanger that did damage.
Not sitting down and taking the Astros without a fight, Robbie Grossman led off with a deep double, bouncing off the centre field wall. Matt Chapman hit a bouncer right up the middle, on the first big hop Sanchez jumped up to grab it and threw to second base where Grossman was still in position to take off to third. Robbie turned and dove in ahead of Altuve’s tag and the A’s lucked out with two on and no outs. Perfect territory to give the A’s the lead as Matt Olson makes the most of a long at bat, smacking a big ol’ oppo dinger to put the A’s up by a run.
Oly for the lead pic.twitter.com/UXU7DvlYWg— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 16, 2019
Khrush came close to going back-to-back hitting a deep drive up dead centre field, but the ball died just in front of the warning track for the first A’s out. Piscotty rolled up to Bregman for a second out, but why stop the party there? Corban Joseph got his first major league home run with an absolute missile over the right field fence.
Corban Joseph made his @MLB debut May 13, 2013— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 16, 2019
Tonight, he hit his first home run!#RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/SUMCLYBYEy
With a bonus run in the inning, Pinder tapped out up the middle and was thrown out by a quick Altuve. The Athletics refused to be shut down, coming back to answer Bregman’s dinger with a pair of their own.
A Fiers heater above the zone got tagged by Correa for a drive to centre field, bringing the Stros within one. Gurriel hit a bouncing grounder up the middle underneath Joseph as he dived, for a soft single. This time a swing on Fiers’ high fastball missed completely, striking out Robinson Chirinos. Pinder then continued to make his case for the centre field position running down Reddick’s liner. Springer teased but flew out to Piscotty to keep the Astros from scoring.
Herrmann was up to lead off the second half of the game, and watched 4 balls to take a walk. Semien hit up the third base line, and the Stros turned a double play on the way to throwing to first. It took a replay review to confirm it as it looked like Gurriel may have slid his foot off the bag, the initial safe call was overturned on replay and the A’s were down two outs as quick as they got the runners on. Grossman struck out without too much of a fight and a promising start to the 5th was cut off.
Altuve weakly grounded up to Fiers, getting out after 4 hard foul balls were hit. Brantley turned on a mid-80s changeup from Fiers, sending it over the fence in right for a tie game. Bregman then grounded up the left infield, and with another outstanding play Matt Chapman ran down the ball, did a full spin, and still threw a laser to beat Bregman by a few steps. Outstanding defence from the A’s tonight as the only thing they can not seem too stop are balls over the fence. Fiers worked Alvarez for a strikeout to clear off the inning and make way for the A’s bats.
Here come the bats, and here come the Matts.
Chapman? Absolutely CRUSHED a 453 foot homer to left, giving the A’s the lead.
Olson? Blasted a sky high dinger deep right field for some insurance, and it’s his second of the night.
Family Matt-ers#RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/U2cbZ0WBtF— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 16, 2019
Khris skied another ball just outside of the infield for the first out. But Piscotty only had to stand and watch Sanchez throw four straight balls to get on base. Corban then hit a grounder that rolled into left field to make it a single. With two homers given up, and two runners on, the Stros pulled Sanchez from the game. Hector Rondon came in to pitch, and the Astros got a lucky double play off of Altuve catching the fly, and passing it to Correa for the second out. The damage was still done as the A’s went Matt-to-Matt for a new lead.
Fiers was brought back out for the 7th, but a sub-90s fastball was belted by Correa to bring the Astros within one, and taking Fiers out of the game.
Bob called on Yusmeiro Petit to take over, facing Gurriel. Fighting the zone he was given, Petit ended up giving out a walk to Gurriel. A quick pop up from Chirinos gave the A’s an easy out. While the hot air made the Coliseum a launching pad tonight, it couldn't take away its other big quirk, the foul ground. Chapman ran down a high pop up in foul territory to put away Reddick for the inning. Petit gets Springer to ground to Semien, and with the force play at second base, Petit ended up with a clean appearance after the walk.
Herrmann was beat out by a step after hitting a ground ball from Rendon. With a longer at-bat, Marcus did the same. Robbie tried to get the A’s another run, but Springer had barely stepped on the warning track before the fly ball fell down into his glove.
The A’s bring in Blake Treinen to take on the Stros in the 8th, getting Altuve to pop out on his first pitch. While doing battle in a long AB, Blake threw a slider to the inside corner and Brantley took it for a ride out to right field to tie the game. Olson took a run to the outfield to catch Bregman’s popup in right for the second out, and with the lefty Alvarez due up, Bob swapped out Blake for Jake.
Diekman came in to take on Alvarez, and with two pitches the job was done thanks to a quick catch of a one hopper by Olson.
Facing Matt “109mph home run” Chapman, the Astros brought out Chris Devinksi. But Matt Chapman went out and hit another dang home run for his second 2-HR game in a row.
So much for that slump— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 16, 2019
⭐️ @MattChap6 ⭐️#RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/WeGNb3ufUc
With the lead once again, Olson did his best but Devinski got him on a strikeout. Khris took a couple hard swings, but ended in the K club with Olson. Joining them both is Piscotty, but the A’s got the edge off of Chapman’s blast.
With a need for 3 big outs, Bob Melvin turned to Liam Hendriks. After breaking a bat on a foul, Correa ended up flying out to right field. Gurriel hit a liner to left, low and fast, but Robbie boogied in to snag it on the fly. It came down to Chirinos hitting a sharp grounder to Chapman. Doing his usual work, Chappy flipped it to Olson and the Athletics came out with a huge win.
While dingers were flying for both teams, the last Chapman homer gave the A’s the edge. Big blasts were the name of the game, but there were also some fantastic defensive plays made today. Chad Pinder impressed in centre field, working hard and keeping the first third of the game from getting out of hand. Olson made a couple great grabs to turn would-be-triples into outs, and if you look at the box score of the game, it just has Matt Chapman’s name printed on it.
Fiers obviously wasn’t as dominant as his usual self, giving up more homers in one game than in either of the previous two months. He still pitched well, but it is hard to suppress runs in a game where even slight mistakes can get carried over the fences.
With tonight’s win the Athletics move to a very nice 69 and 52. Tomorrow, the series with the Astros continues with Tanner Roark and the A’s taking on Justin Verlander.