The A’s took the first game of the series against Houston, beating the Astros by a final of 7-5 on a cool night at the Coliseum.
One big inning from the lineup was just enough for the pitching staff. A solid performance from one of Oakland’s many rookie starters led the way on a day the bullpen had some uneven performances from the arms. They bent at the end but didn’t break, though, doing enough to walk away with the win tonight.
Teams trade bombs early
Houston struck first to get this game started. Jose Altuve tried blooping a ball into shallow right field but Ramon Laureano made a nice catch for the first out of the game. The second batter of the game made sure no one could catch it as he pulled an Adam Oller pitch that got out in a hurry, putting the Astros up 1-0 before Oakland even had a chance to bat.
The rookie starter settled in after that mistake, however. Back-to-back strikeouts ended the first and he retired nine in a row after walking the leadoff man in the second. He would rack up four strikeouts on the day.
The offense, meanwhile, didn’t do anything for the first couple innings. It wasn’t until Tony Kemp came up to lead off the third that the A’s got their first hit, and it was a big one:
Tony Kemp just went yard again— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 26, 2022
His second in as many days, that home run tied this game all up 1-1. A lot of the trade candidates on the team are playing well right now, the perfect time if the front office wants to make a move, and Kemp is one of those players that might interest some teams.
Then the bats really wake up
Aside from the Kemp home run, the bats didn’t do much of anything in the early going. That changed in the fourth. Laureano got the rally going with a hustle double to center field. A sac fly and walk put runners on the corners for Elvis Andrus, and he delivered the lead to Oakland with an RBI single to left:
Elvis gives the A’s the lead— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 26, 2022
Far from done, Kemp came up to the plate with two outs and knocked in a pair on a flyball to straightaway center field, his second and third RBI’s of the day:
Tony Freakin’ Kemp is on fire— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 26, 2022
And to cap things off, Skye Bolt pulled a ball that landed on the out of town scoreboard in right field for a two-run home run to cap the rally:
Skye Bolt caps off a five-run inning with a bomb pic.twitter.com/SE3TKHdjaP— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 26, 2022
That was Bolt’s third home run of the year and all three have come in the past 15 games. Is this a temporary hot streak, or is something finally clicking for the fourth-year player? Bolt ended the day 2-for-3 with the 2-run home run and a stolen base.
Oakland ultimately scored five times in the inning, four of which came with two outs. It looked like Houston starter Jake Odorizzi was struggling with something wrong with his hand/finger, but Oakland will take it.
Houston got a run back the next inning thanks to back-to-back doubles to lead off the frame but Oller did a good job not letting it snowball into something worse. The four-run lead probably took some of the pressure off him.
Not only was Oller holding down a potent Astros lineup, he was doing it efficiently. At only 62 pitches, manager Mark Kotsay sent him back out to start the sixth, his first time pitching that deep in the big leagues. It didn’t go well as a double and walk ended Oller’s day with Domingo Acevedo coming on in relief of the rookie.
- Adam Oller: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 71 pitches
This was arguably his best start with the A’s so far and the pitch count/efficiency is especially impressive. He left this game in line for his first major league victory.
And his line would have looked even better if Acevedo had been able to strand those two baserunners Oller left him with. Instead, he made a huge error as he tried a pickoff at first base. The only problem? The first baseman, tonight Chad Pinder who has all of three games of experience there, wasn’t anywhere near the bag, and the ball instead went deep into foul territory. One run scored and the other runner went first to third.
Like the A’s an inning before, Houston wasn’t done scoring just yet. Acevedo hit an Astros batter to put runners on the corners. When the runner on first tried stealing second base, Sean Murphy’s throw down dribbled away from Nick Allen, allowing the runner on third to trot home to score without a throw. Acevedo got out of the inning without giving up any more damage but only thanks to some help from Vimael Machin at third:
Vimael Machín made a nice play to help Acevedo get out the 6th-inning jam pic.twitter.com/SrgGQS9nvF— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 26, 2022
Lefty reliever A.J. Puk had a scoreless seventh inning, getting a strikeout and a nice 5-4-3 double play from his defense:
A’s turned a huge 5-4-3 to help Puk— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 26, 2022
Bolt led off the bottom half of the frame with a double and ended up on second after a stolen base, but three straight A’s strikeouts killed that opportunity for an insurance run.
Kotsay had Puk stay out there to start the eighth inning. He walked the leadoff man to bring the tying run to the plate, then got two outs, including a strikeout of Yordan Alvarez and popup that Pinder made great nice play on:
Chad Pinder goes over the shoulder for the grab pic.twitter.com/e5l1hD2WE9— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 26, 2022
For teams wondering if he can handle first base, Pinder showed he can handle the position tonight.
Righty Zach Jackson was brought in to face the right-handed Yuli Gurriel in a big moment in this game. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Gurriel popped it up to Pinder at first to end the inning and preserving the 2-run lead that felt small.
The A’s tacked on a huge insurance run in the bottom half of the frame. Murphy hit a leadoff double and came around to score on another Andrus RBI single, his third hit of the night:
The A’s will carry a 3-run lead into the ninth for Sweet Lou Trivino— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 26, 2022
Then it was the closer’s turn to finish this game off. Lou Trivino came on and made it stressful when he served up a solo home run to cut the lead to two, then allowed back-to-back hits to put the tying run on base. He buckled down and ended the game in style, getting a strikeout to end the game and earn his ninth save of the year.
Never any drama from Lou Trivino— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 26, 2022
A’s beat Astros 7-5 and are 11-10 in July
So a quality win all around for the club. Adam Oller was solid and earned his first career win, so congratulations are in order for him! Skye Bolt continues to look more comfortable at the big league level, and a few of Oakland’s trade pieces had good evenings as well, including Tony Kemp and Elvis Andrus. And they’ve now won three of the last four against the Astros.
Tomorrow Frankie Montas makes what is likely to be his final start for the Oakland Athletics. The expectation is that he’ll be dealt soon after tomorrow’s game, so enjoy the righty one final time by tuning in for his start tomorrow. He’ll be opposed by Luis Garcia, so it’s looking like we might be treated to a pitching duel. Same time, same place!