How hot are the Oakland A’s this month? It only took one swing of the bat for them to outscore the Houston Astros tonight.
The A’s got a grand slam from Chad Pinder in the 3rd inning and never looked back, holding onto that lead for an eventual 5-3 victory at the Coliseum.
Oakland now has a 12-10 record in July, which is quite the turnaround after a 5-21 mark in June. Since the All-Star break last week, they’ve won five out of seven games on this homestand. And perhaps best of all, they’ve taken four of their last five meetings against the Astros, winning a series in Houston before the break and now clinching another series at home this week.
This latest victory was led by Pinder, who posted highlights on both sides of the ball. In addition to his slam, he also made an excellent defensive play at first base to squeeze the final out of the evening. The pitching staff stepped up too, limiting Houston to just two earned runs, and the bullpen was especially dominant in retiring the final dozen Astros batters in order.
It took the A’s a minute to get going against Houston starter Luis Garcia, as they struck out five times in the first two innings alone. But they found their spark in the 3rd.
The rally began with an infield single, and then a pair of walks loaded the bases with two out. Up came Pinder, who saw a hanging breaking ball and pounded it 412 feet into the left field seats.
well that home run was of the GRAND variety pic.twitter.com/2lwyK0zLIO— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 27, 2022
That was Pinder’s second grand slam this month, after hitting one in Arlington a couple weeks ago. He’s the sixth player in Oakland history to hit two slams in one month, per info manager Mike Selleck.
The last A’s batter to achieve that feat was Stephen Piscotty back in 2020, and he had a nice game tonight too. With the team clinging to a close lead, he doubled in the 6th inning but was stranded on base. Then he doubled again in the 8th, and this time Tony Kemp followed with another double to drive home Piscotty.
It was a valuable insurance run, even if they didn’t end up needing it when all was said and done.
On the other side of the ball, Oakland’s pitching did a great job keeping the Astros grounded.
Starter Frankie Montas is still easing his way back from an extended absence this month, and he wasn’t at his very best tonight, but he held his own. Even with the Astros reaching base in all five of his innings, he was able to avoid any big rallies. All he allowed was a solo homer to an All-Star slugger (Tucker), and an RBI double to the current best hitter in MLB (Alvarez). His teammates also let through an unearned run on his watch.
- Montas: 5 ip, 3 runs (2 earned), 4 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 7 hits, 78 pitches
Was that the last time we’ll see Frankie pitch for the A’s, with the trade deadline coming next week and his name flying around the rumor mill? Only time will tell.
As for the unearned run charged to him, that happened in the 5th. A single and a double plated Houston’s second run of the game, and then they followed with a grounder to the left side. Third baseman Vimael Machin fielded the ball to his left, spun around, and threw to first base, for what should have been the third out of the inning. However, he one-hopped the throw, and it skipped past the first baseman Pinder; everybody was safe and a run scored.
It goes down as a throwing error on Machin, and that’s technically the correct call. If we’re being honest though, it was a favorable hop right on target and most MLB first basemen would have scooped it. But super-sub Pinder was playing his fifth career game at first base, and that lack of experience may have been a factor. No matter though considering the offensive output he provided, and anyway he totally redeemed himself on defense soon after.
After Montas exited, the bullpen was asked for four innings of work, and they nailed it. Austin Pruitt retired five straight batters including three strikeouts, Sam Moll retired Alvarez/Bregman/Tucker in order, Zach Jackson struck out his only batter, and Lou Trivino wrapped it up with a perfect 9th inning. Sweet!
Without any baserunner drama down the stretch, there was at least some excitement for the final out, as Machin and Pinder got a do-over on their previous defensive mistake. The Astros hit a grounder and Machin fielded it to his right, then threw across his body to first base. The long throw once again required a hop to reach the bag, but this time Pinder made a spectacular play to dig it out of the dirt while also doing the splits to reach the ball faster. Pickin’ Machin!
Vimael Machin flashing the leather for the W pic.twitter.com/NiqxUFGUUk— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 27, 2022
Thanks to their strong July, the A’s are no longer on pace for their worst season in a half-century of Oakland history. What’s more, they’re making a habit of beating the mighty leaders of their division. And their top trade chip, who was hurt a few weeks ago, appears back to health in time for the deadline. That’s progress for a rebuilding year!