That’s about as gift-wrapped as a win can be, but the Oakland A’s will happily take anything they can get against a division rival and championship contender.
The A’s beat the Houston Astros by a 3-2 final on Saturday at the Coliseum, scoring all three of their runs in one weird rally and then shutting down the opponent’s powerful lineup the rest of the way.
*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***
The box score says two of Oakland’s three runs were earned, but that’s a generous conclusion. They loaded the bases in the 4th inning, and all three runners eventually came home, but not because of any noteworthy hitting by the A’s. First a swinging bunt trickled just far enough in front of the plate for a runner to scamper home, then a passed ball by a former Gold Glove catcher let through another runner, and finally a wild pitch opened the door for the third runner to score.
But hey, the runs still count all the same! The important thing is Oakland took full advantage of the opportunity, holding that early lead the rest of the way to turn it into a victory. Six pitchers combined to keep the Astros in check, limiting them to two runs on five hits and almost no hard contact.
How about a closer look at that 4th inning?
The A’s at least earned their way on base. Sean Murphy led off with a sharp single, Elvis Andrus worked an 0-2 count into a walk, and Stephen Piscotty laced a clean single to left field. Bases loaded, with one out.
Next up was Seth Brown, who more or less just needed to make some contact to drive in a run. He did hit the ball, but only barely, dribbling a grounder maybe a dozen feet away from the plate. Houston catcher Martin Maldonado quickly pounced on it, but Murphy had been running on contact, allowing him to sneak past before Maldonado could hustle back to tag him.
One run was across, and Sheldon Neuse was next to bat. But the very first pitch to Neuse crossed up Maldonado and clanked off his glove, rolling plenty far enough away for Andrus to trot home.
The next pitch missed way outside but Maldonado corralled this one. The next one after that was buried too far in the dirt and it skipped past the catcher, allowing Piscotty to score.
A grounder that didn’t travel 20 feet, a passed ball, and a wild pitch, all within the span of four pitches.
just how we drew it up pic.twitter.com/3zWy8fzBmx— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 9, 2022
Neuse eventually finished that at-bat by drawing a walk. After that, Oakland never reached base again for the rest of the game.
Those three runs turned out to be enough.
Rookie Zach Logue made a spot start today, filling in for the briefly injured Frankie Montas, and he put his team in a position to win. A spot of turbulence in the 2nd inning resulted in two runs, but the left-hander responded by retiring his next 11 batters through the end of the 5th.
- Logue: 5 ip, 2 runs, 2 Ks, 1 BB, 3 hits, 75 pitches
The Astros only hit the ball hard against him four times, and two of those were routine skyouts at too high of launch angles to be useful.
The bullpen fared even better:
- A.J. Puk hit a batter but otherwise retired the heart of the lineup in the 6th.
- Domingo Acevedo retired all three of his hitters in the 7th, though with some extra drama — one of them struck out, reached base on a passed ball, and was later eliminated in a double play.
- Zach Jackson retired two of his three batters in the 8th, but the other lucked into a bloop single to shallow center, so he was replaced mid-inning.
- Sam Moll came in to bail out Jackson, but to do so he’d need to face Yordan Alvarez. The result was a 106.8 mph liner, Houston’s hardest-hit ball of the day, but it went directly at a glove for the third out.
- Lou Trivino went for the save in the 9th inning. He got his first batter, but a walk and a single made things interesting. A popout and a weak lineout ended the threat and sealed the win.
While the A’s own runs might have been gift-wrapped, their pitchers truly earned this victory with a shutdown performance against one of the better lineups in the sport. That’s something to be proud of!
Logue gave major props to the A’s bullpen for closing out today’s win pic.twitter.com/AARRkLUO0K— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 9, 2022