It started out so promising. Just like in Game 1, Khris Davis opened the scoring with a homer to give the Oakland A’s an early lead.
But for the second straight day, the Houston Astros charged back to grab the lead and then never let go. The A’s didn’t score after the 4th inning, ultimately losing 5-2 in Game 2 of the 2020 ALDS.
Like in Monday’s opener, this was a tale of two games. In the first four innings the A’s were competitive, trading blows with the Astros and staying close. But Houston struck again in the 5th, and then their pitchers retired 13 straight Oakland batters through the end of the 8th. Marcus Semien singled to lead off the 9th, offering a glimmer of hope, but two batters later the game ended on a double play — the perfect representation of the afternoon for the green and gold.
Normally the A’s have a problem driving in runners from scoring position, but there is no column for that on Tuesday because they never got a single opportunity. That will happen when you don’t reach base for half the game, but it’s also because every time they did get to first they found a way to get out before even arriving at second.
In the 1st and 9th innings, Semien singled to lead off but was then eliminated in a double play. In the 3rd, Stephen Piscotty singled and then tried to advance to second on a wild pitch, but the ball didn’t stray far enough and the catcher recovered to throw him out by a mile — and Semien followed with a walk, which would have meant two on and one out (Semien was later stranded on first). In the 4th, Davis singled and was tagged out in an awkward double play.
With no one staying on base long enough to brew a rally, Oakland’s only scoring came on solo homers. They got one in the 1st by Davis, and then in the 3rd inning Chad Pinder hit the longest dinger at Dodger Stadium this year at 453 feet. Unfortunately, those two single tallies weren’t enough to keep pace. Other than the four singles and one walk mentioned above, the A’s had no other baserunners, and not even many loud outs off Houston starter Framber Valdez.
Pinder showing you why he’s batting 3rd today pic.twitter.com/fRgSj5IHlu— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) October 6, 2020
Meanwhile, A’s starter Sean Manaea held on for a couple innings but got pounded the moment he began the second time through the lineup. Leadoff man George Springer, who had looked thoroughly fooled by the southpaw right up until that moment, homered in his second at-bat, with a runner on base to put the Astros on top 2-1. In the 4th, a double, single, and groundout plated another run. And in the 5th, No. 9 batter Martin Maldonado wrapped up that second time through the order with another homer to make it 4-2.
Oakland called to the bullpen, and Yusmeiro Petit was greeted with another homer by Springer. The A’s bullpen retired 13 out of 15 batters the rest of the way, but the damage had been done.
And with that, the Astros have a quick 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five. On the bright side, a little bird told me that it’s totally possible to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a Division Series. Apparently it’s happened multiple times before. The A’s will begin that comeback on Wednesday in Game 3, at 12:35 p.m.