The Oakland A’s still haven’t figured out the Houston Astros lineup.
The A’s built an early lead and had their ace starter on the mound, but still couldn’t hold back the powerful Astros in a 9-6 loss in their series opener Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. Houston has now won eight of 11 meetings this year, while averaging seven runs per game against Oakland pitching.
It got off to such a promising start. The A’s hit the first two pitches of the game for a double and a single, and then the fourth pitch of the game was dribbled against the shift for an RBI single by Matt Olson. A couple batters later Chad Pinder singled in another run, and then Jed Lowrie doubled in one more. Pinder was thrown out at the plate on Lowrie’s hit, but it was still a three-run blitz to begin the evening.
Jed double makes it 3-0 but Pinder thrown out at home lol what a start to this game pic.twitter.com/guSJfKDbOa— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 7, 2021
The Astros quickly got back two of those runs in the bottom of the 1st, but Oakland kept pushing. Stephen Piscotty led off the 2nd with a double, in his first at-bat since returning from the injured list, and then Ramon Laureano and Elvis Andrus each singled to drive him in. Laureano and Andrus proceeded to make some noise on the bases, pulling off a double-steal and drawing an errant throw from the catcher. Laureano scored on the play, and Andrus moved to third where he soon scored on a productive groundout by Olson.
This E2 led to a couple of easy runs for the A's (Olson hit a soft grounder to drive in another) pic.twitter.com/xTSg5XnPaF— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 7, 2021
Full highlights of both rallies below.
And that's what you missed on Glee! pic.twitter.com/XRErOsDHhx— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 7, 2021
Another three runs were in, and the A’s led 6-2 in the 2nd inning. Lookin’ good!
... But not good enough. Houston’s lineup is just ridiculous.
Oakland starter Chris Bassitt hadn’t given up more than four runs in a game since 2019, a span of 28 straight starts encompassing all of 2020 and all of 2021 so far. Within four batters tonight, he was already halfway there thanks to a two-run dinger by Yordan Alvarez.
The Astros swiped another run in the 4th on an RBI single by the pesky Myles Straw, and then the hammer came in the 5th. Houston put a pair of runners on base, and Alvarez came up and went deep again, this time the other way into the short Crawford Boxes in left. Game tied, Hound tamed, and 5 RBI for Alvarez.
- Bassitt: 4⅓ ip, 6 runs, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 2 HR, 8 hits, 86 pitches, 92.1 mph EV
Even the best have an off-night, especially against the team that leads MLB in scoring by nearly a half-run per game.
The bullpen had trouble too. J.B. Wendelken finished the 5th but not the 6th, and Yusmeiro Petit allowed both his inherited runners to score plus one more of his own.
Meanwhile, Oakland’s lineup went silent for the rest of the evening. They led off the 5th with runners on the corners but got nothing, and led off the 7th with a double but stranded it. The final nine batters were retired in order, as were 15 of the final 16. In the first two innings they went 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and the rest of the game they went 0-for-6.
It’s not that six runs is bad. Andrus had three hits, Laureano reached three times, Olson did some nice situational hitting even without any fireworks, and so on. But it wasn’t enough on a day when the other team exploded for nine.
The slump is getting a bit long, and every loss against the Astros counts a little bit more since the A’s are chasing them in the standings. Oakland absolutely should have won this game but they let it slip away, a phrase that we’ve said many times over the last few weeks, this time thanks to seven unanswered runs by their top division rival. Gonna have to do better than that.
Chris Bassitt: "If you’re going to miss locations you’d better have life to the pitches and I had nothing today."— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) July 7, 2021