The Oakland A’s beat the Houston Astros 21-7 on Tuesday. It was a stellar offensive showing, big enough to be worth a closer look. Here are the 21 best things about the supernova of scoring we just witnessed.
1. Season high
The 21 runs were the most the A’s have scored in a game this season. Their next-highest came just over two weeks ago, when they dropped 19 on the Royals, and before that they put up 17 against the Tigers back in May. Their 21 runs also tied for second in the entire majors this year, along with the Astros themselves, who just two days prior had beaten the Mariners 21-1. Houston also holds the top spot, with a 23-2 rout of the Orioles exactly a month prior.
In Monday’s series opener, the Astros thoroughly embarrassed the A’s with a 15-0 shellacking. To make it worse, they did it against Mike Fiers, who has been Oakland’s most consistently reliable starter this season.
One nice thing about baseball is that they play again the next day, so you can always brush it off an go get ‘em tomorrow. But nothing helps you forget a 15-run loss faster than answering back with a 14-run win against the same team the very next day.
The turnaround was nearly historic, as noted by MLB insider Sarah Langs: “There has been just 1 instance in *MLB history* of a team winning by 15+ runs after losing by 15+ runs in the prior game: The 1884 Chicago Colts did this, on Sept 10 (anniversary today!!) & 11.” Oakland only ended up winning by 14, but it’s still only the second time that’s happened in the modern post-1900 era, via insider Martin Gallegos. (Also: The A’s got to 15 runs three innings faster than the Astros had the night before.)
After the first two games of this series, the run differential is currently +1 in favor of Houston. Pretty evenly matched so far.
3. Second-most runs ever allowed by Astros
The Houston franchise began in 1962 as the Colt .45s, and they’re now in their 58th season in the majors. Here’s the all-time list of most runs they’ve allowed in a game:
- 22: vs. Cubs, 6/3/1987
- 21: vs. A’s, 9/10/2019
- 19: four instances
Only once in more than half a century has a team scored more against Houston.
4. Third-most runs ever scored by A’s
On the other hand, the A’s have been around since 1901, and are now in their 119th season. Here’s the all-time list of most runs they’ve scored in a game:
- 24: vs. Tigers, 5/18/1912 (tied-1st)
- 24: vs. Red Sox, 5/1/1929 (tied-1st)
- 23: vs. Rangers, 9/30/2000
- 21: seven instances (including this one)
The next most recent instance of 21 came last year against the Angels, but before that it hadn’t happened since the year 2000 and before that 1969. Add in the 23-run game from 2000, and this is only the fourth time in the last 50 seasons (and the fifth time since moving to Oakland, including that 1969 game) that they’ve put up 21 in a game.
5. Football score
The joke about a big baseball score being a football score is a cliche at this point, but it’s actually appropriate here. The A’s beat the Astros by the tally of three touchdowns to one touchdown. Unfortunately they fell short of outscoring the Raiders, who put up 24 on Monday in their NFL season opener.
6. Two hits for everyone!
Oakland’s 25 hits were a season-high, and the whole team got in on the action. Everyone in the starting lineup got at least two hits, marking the first time the A’s have done that since at least 1908. Better yet, they’d already accomplished this by the fourth inning.
But wait, there’s more. Almost everyone had three hits, except for Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Jurickson Profar. But each of them walked at least once, so everyone in the A’s lineup reached base at least three times. They also all scored at least one run, and drove in at least one.
7. Full team effort
This was truly a full team effort. Not only did everyone contribute, but it was pretty even from top to bottom. Nobody got four hits, and nobody drove in more than four or scored more than three. This wasn’t the game where so-and-so exploded and everyone else chipped in around him. It was just the whole group putting together extended rallies and carrying the line to the next guy.
8. Those 25 hits
The 25 hits also ranked high in club history. They’re the second-most since coming to Oakland, trailing just one game in 1979 when they matched the franchise record of 29 (and tied with another game of 25 from 1969). They also did 29 once in Philly, and 26 three times there and once in KC.
Furthermore, the 29-hit game in ‘79 was a 15-inning affair, so Tuesday matched the ‘69 game for most hits in a nine-inning contest in Oakland history.
9. Most total bases
While the A’s fell short of franchise records in runs and hits, they did set one all-time team mark, for Total Bases. With their six homers, three doubles, and 16 singles, they combined for 46 total bases, breaking the record of 44 set in 1929 and 1996.
10. Box score
In all its glory.
And how about that 9-for-16 with runners in scoring position? Also, you can’t see it there, but they only struck out seven times and didn’t hit into any double plays.
The A’s matched their season-high with six homers, and five of them came with exactly one runner on base.
Tonight is that GIF of Oprah handing everybody free stuff, and the free stuff is two-run homers. Semien just hit his, 15-2 A’s.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) September 11, 2019
A’s have hit 2,376 feet of home runs tonight...so far— Vince Cotroneo (@vincebaseball) September 11, 2019
12. Seventh player to 20 HR
Just a few days ago, the A’s set a franchise record with six players all reaching 20+ homers in the same season. Make that seven players now, as Khris Davis socked his 20th dinger on Tuesday. Khrush joins the club along with Chapman (32), Olson (31), Marcus Semien (27), Mark Canha (23), Ramon Laureano (21), and Profar (20).
13. Khrush extends streak
Speaking of Davis, he’s struggled through an off-year in 2019. He put together three straight seasons of 40+ homers from 2016-18, but this summer he got derailed early after a hot start and just never got back on track. He’s clearly not going to reach 40 this year, so he will not be the 15th slugger in history to do it four seasons in a row. It’s downright ironic for that to happen in the most dingeriffic summer the majors has ever seen.
However, Khrush did extend one interesting streak. This is his fourth straight year of 20+ homers, and the last A’s player to do that was Eric Chavez from 2000-06.
In addition to that, Davis tied Mark McGwire for the Oakland record with 153 long balls over a four-season span, with plenty of time left to break it.
14. ... And he almost had another one
Khrush almost added a second homer, but he was robbed at the wall by none other than former A’s star Josh Reddick. Here’s a video of the play.
The A’s tied their season-high with six homers overall, and two of them came courtesy of Matt Olson. That breaks his career-high, which was set at 29 last year, despite missing over a month to a broken hamate. He’s played in 51 fewer games than last year, with nearly 200 fewer plate appearances.
Marcus Semien also matched his personal best with his 27th dinger, set in 2016. He’s got 17 games left to hit another one and break that mark.
16. Olson’s 1B company
There’s another note to make about Olson surpassing 30 homers, as he’s just the third Oakland first baseman to do so. In the club’s half-century in the Bay, only McGwire and Jason Giambi have reached 30 while playing 1B.
17. The new Bash Bros
One more thing about Olson getting to 30. He and Chapman are now the first pair of A’s teammates to each hit 30 homers since 2006, when Frank Thomas and Nick Swisher did it. It’s not terribly unique in team history, as it also happened every year from 1999-2002, plus ‘96, plus several times in the original Bash Bros era, but still, it had been over a decade since we’d seen it.
18. Murphy’s big day
Sean Murphy is one of the A’s top prospects and hopefully their star catcher of the future, and he got called up at the beginning of September. So far he has not disappointed.
Murphy has started three games, in addition to being a late-inning sub a few times. In his first start, which was also his MLB debut, he homered and caught a shutout. In his second start, he drove in a run and caught Chris Bassitt’s career-high in strikeouts, and the team’s overall season-high in Ks (19). Tuesday was his third start, and he blasted two more homers, sharing the team lead with 4 RBI.
The first dinger was majestic.
Of course, the left field wall in Houston is only about 100 feet from home plate, so this blast went “only” 448 feet. But that’s still the second-longest homer by the A’s this year, after a 453-foot Chapman tater in August, which also came against the Astros.
Murphy is now batting .333/.375/.933 with a 234 wRC+ through his first 16 plate appearances, with three dingers already. And remember, he’s a glove-first player. Dude’s gonna be one heck of an exciting player to watch.
19. Re-matching history
In August, the A’s and Astros tied an all-time mark when four different players had multi-homer efforts (Olson, Chapman, Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa). On Tuesday, they did it again, as George Springer and Martin Maldonado joined Olson and Murphy with a pair of homers each. And of course, there would have been a fifth player if Reddick hadn’t robbed Khrush.
According to MLB, there have been six such games since 1908, with four multi-homer players. Two of them came between the A’s and Astros in the last month.
20. But also scoring other ways
There was plenty of power in this game, but the homers only accounted for 11 of the 21 runs. The A’s originally built their lead with just a simple, long rally, putting together seven runs in the 1st inning without even an extra-base hit. They more than batted around, with the following results (click here to watch the full rally):
- Single (RBI)
- Single (RBI)
- Single (RBI)
- Single (RBI)
- Single (2 RBI)
- Single (RBI)
Astros starter Wade Miley faced nine batters and retired only one of them, including that string of six straight singles. (In his previous start, against the Mariners, he’d faced six batters and failed to retire any of them, with five coming around to score. Put them together and he’s got a 327.27 ERA over his last two starts.)
The A’s are 6-28 in game in which they don’t homer, so it’s always nice to see them put together some runs in other ways — even though the power did end up appearing later.
21. Mengden earns the save
The last thing on this list is also my favorite. Despite winning by 14 runs, the A’s still recorded a save at the end of this game. The rule says that a pitcher gets a save for entering with a lead and throwing the final three innings without blowing it, no matter how big the lead. Daniel Mengden came in (with a 15-run cushion) to mop up the last three frames, in his hometown of Houston no less, and for that he earned his first career save.
And that’s a wrap! It was a wild game, the night after a completely opposite wild game, and there are still two more contests left in the series — we’ll see what these teams do for an encore!