After two days off to protest social injustices, the Oakland A’s got back on the field Saturday for a doubleheader against the Houston Astros. Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait until the nightcap to shake off the rust.
The A’s fell quietly to the Astros in the opening game of the twin-bill, 4-2, in their first visit to Minute Maid Park this summer.
This game looked similar to many recent A’s wins, but with one major exception — doubleheader contests only last seven innings each this year. Oakland has made a habit of late comebacks against opposing bullpens, especially in the 9th inning, but this game literally didn’t have a 9th inning. That doesn’t mean they would have won if it had gone the full nine, but the abbreviation certainly did cut out one of their most frequent avenues to success.
Although new acquisition Tommy La Stella wasn’t in the lineup yet, with his elite ability to make contact in virtually every at-bat, the problem in this game was not a lack of clutch performances. The A’s went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position, which is perfectly fine. However, on one of those hits the runner (Mark Canha) was thrown out at the plate, robbing Oakland of their presumed reward for coming through in the big moment. He was probably safe, but I agree the call was too close to overturn in this flawed version of MLB’s replay review system.
Otherwise, both times that the A’s pieced together serious rallies in which a runner reached third base, they at least brought him home, each time courtesy of Matt Chapman driving in Robbie Grossman (RBI groundout, RBI single). Rather, they just didn’t set the table enough times, and twice they were thwarted with a single man on first base by bouncing into double plays. Ironically, the thing they were really lacking in this game was a homer to push themselves over the top after successfully manufacturing a couple runs.
The Astros had no such issues. They did it all in the 1st inning, putting a pair of runners on base and then swatting a three-run dinger — the clutch hit they needed to get something out of the rally, and maximized by the fact that the hit was a long ball (by Kyle Tucker). They added insurance in the 4th, with a solo homer from Josh Reddick, helping send A’s starter Chris Bassitt to the showers early.
Bassitt: 3+ ip, 2 Ks, 3 BB, 2 HR, 6 hits, 62 pitches (35 strikes)
That’s easily the right-hander’s worst start of the year, but it’s also the toughest assignment he’s faced, on the road against a great offense. Lou Trivino and Yusmeiro Petit kept it quiet the rest of the way, but it was too little too late on a day when Oakland’s lineup couldn’t mount the comeback in time.
In baseball you always get another chance the next day, but the A’s don’t even need to wait that long. The second half of the doubleheader will get going in five minutes.