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Game #44: Greinke and Astros too much for A's to handle

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Just not Oakland's day

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics
Always choose the photo where it looks like the pitcher is taking a poop
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Well that won't help the run differential debate.

The Oakland A's got trounced 8-1 by the Houston Astros on Wednesday at the Coliseum. It was a close game for a while, but the Astros were in control throughout, and by the end the score was lopsided.

*** Click here to revisit tonight's Game Thread! ***

The offensive side of the ball is easy to sum up. In the 2nd inning, Chad Pinder singled and then Sean Murphy doubled him in. That was it. They only got as far as second base one other time. Zack Greinke was vintage brilliant for eight frames, including eight strikeouts and no walks, and then a reliever pitched the 9th because the bullpen was getting bored.

To make matters worse, Murphy didn’t finish the game. He took a pounding behind the plate on defense, with multiple direct hits to the mask and/or shoulder from sharp foul balls. He hung in there as long as any human could, but by the 5th inning he stepped aside and Aramis Garcia took over. Murphy’s removal was just a precaution and he doesn’t have a concussion, and he might even be good to go Thursday, reports Alex Coffey of The Athletic.

Overwhelmed

The A’s pitching staff did everything it could, and they got so close to putting so many zeroes on the scoreboard, but the Astros attack was just too much.

Starter Frankie Montas tried to be the immovable object against Houston’s unstoppable force, and for the most part he succeeded. Except for the 1st inning.

The first pitch of the game was hit for a homer by Jose Altuve, and then a rally brewed. A close 3-2 pitch missed for a walk to Alex Bregman, followed by a sharp single, and then with two outs a bloop single to doink home another run.

But along the way Montas struck out the side in the 1st inning, and then he fanned the first two batters of the 2nd as well. The Astros put together a couple more threats, but the right-hander avoided further damage through the end of the 5th.

  • Montas: 5 ip, 2 runs, 6 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HR, 7 hits, 98 pitches, 92.3 mph EV

The line is modest, and nothing came easy as he was past 70 pitches before the 3rd inning was over, but Montas did an impressive job keeping a tough lineup at bay and at least completing five frames.

First out of the bullpen was Deolis Guerra. He breezed through the 6th, but in the 7th he faced the top of the lineup and didn’t quite make it through. With two outs and a full count he barely missed to Bregman for Ball 4, in nearly the same spot Montas had missed against him in the 1st inning but even slightly closer to the zone this time, and once again it sparked a rally. The next batter singled, and then a double plated both runners. Sergio Romo entered with the inherited runner on second and allowed a single to drive him in.

It got worse in the 8th. Adam Kolarek served up three hits and a pair of walks, almost all of it after the second out had been recorded, adding three runs to the scoreboard when the dust settled. The southpaw has appeared a dozen times this year, and seven of the eight earned runs he’s allowed have come against the Astros, soooo maybe this isn’t proving to be the best matchup.

  • Kolarek, vs. HOU: 2 ip, 7 ER, 1 K, 3 BB, 2 HR, 7 hits, 1 HBP
  • Kolarek, vs. other: 7 ip, 1 ER, 3 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR, 8 hits, .265 xwOBA

On the bright side, Reymin Guduan tossed a scoreless 9th, and he’s now put together a span of eight innings with just one run allowed since returning from the injured list in late April. His ERA is down from 27.00 to 7.59, so, progress!

MLB debut

For those who stuck it out until the end, there was a treat in the 9th inning. Luis Barrera made his MLB debut, as a defensive replacement in CF, one day after being called up from the minors. Naturally the first batter hit the ball to him for a fairly routine play, and then the third batter hit one to the right-center gap but Barrera glided over to make a tough grab look easy. He got an at-bat in the bottom of the frame but struck out.

Welcome to the Show!

Close wins and blowout losses

The trend continues. The A’s win more often than not, but when they lose they do it big. Their run differential for the year is now minus-14, but they’re still in first place in the AL West division. It’s gonna take a few more months to figure out what that means.