The Oakland A’s had a chance to sweep the Astros on Sunday, but they’ll have to settle for winning three out of four. Zack Greinke, making his third start for Houston since being acquired in July, shut down the A’s en route to a 4-1 finish.
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It took Oakland until the 4th inning to even get a baserunner against Greinke. Marcus Semien led off that frame with a homer, two days after going yard against another Astros superstar in Justin Verlander. The A’s continued to threaten in the 4th, getting two more men on base, but they never found the plate again. Two more runners were stranded in the 5th, and another in scoring position in the 6th, and then a pair of double plays in the later innings ended any chance of a comeback.
In the end, Greinke went seven strong. All three of his starts for Houston have been quality efforts, and all have resulted in victories.
The secret to success in life:— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 18, 2019
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On the other side of the ball, Brett Anderson navigated around a lot of trouble but almost made it work. He got some help in the 1st inning from right fielder Chad Pinder, who threw out Jose Altuve at the plate, then he stranded individual runners in the 2nd and 3rd. In the 4th he put two more on but got out of it.
However, in the 5th inning, the constant baserunners finally caught up with Anderson. He allowed singles to the first two batters, setting up yet another Houston rally. He then got the next two hitters out and worked an 0-2 count to Alex Bregman, but he was unable to make the one final pitch he needed, and Bregman blasted a slider for a three-run dinger. Anderson came back out for the 6th and allowed a walk and then an RBI double to Yuli Gurriel, before being pulled with the eventual final score already on the board.
Lou Trivino, Jake Diekman, and Ryan Buchter combined to toss four scoreless frames to keep the A’s within reach, but there were no late-inning dramatics this time.
When Anderson exited the game, he left with the trainer, and it turns out he had a “little blister on [his] finger,” reports John Shea of the S.F. Chronicle. It’s currently not expected to affect his next start.
Despite a bummer of a finale, this was still an excellent series for the A’s. They had recently lost some ground in the Wild Card race, and a poor showing against the Astros would have dug them quite a hole. Instead they proved themselves against arguably the best team in the league, and gave everyone a reminder that they’re a serious contender.
Last year, this very same weekend from Aug. 17-19, the A’s won a home series against the mighty Astros, en route to an eventual Wild Card berth. Hopefully they can stay hot after this latest triumph and reach that same postseason goal again.