The Oakland Athletics were powerless against Framber Valdez in a 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros.
James Kaprielian got the start Sunday and worked around a leadoff walk in the first thanks to a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Alex Bregman. Another leadoff walk, this time to Jose Abreu put him in hot water in the second. Abreu moved up to second on a fly out by Kyle Tucker. Jeremy Pena then launched one to right center that Ramon Laureano reached into the stands for and pulled back for the second out.
Robbed by Ramón™️ pic.twitter.com/tCJFoTTm5V— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 21, 2023
Abreu moved to third on a wild pitch and Kaprielian walked Jake Myers to put runners at the corners, but then struck out Chas McCormick to leave them stranded. Kaprielian seemed to settle in from there retiring the side in order in the third and the first two batters in the fourth before walking Tucker. He then struck out Pena to end the inning.
Kaprielian allowed a leadoff single to Jake Meyers to start the fifth. After a fly out by McCormick, Martin Maldonado singled to put runners at first and second. Altuve then sent a single to right that scored Meyers to put Houston in front 1-0. Laureano fielded and threw out Maldonado at third for the second out. Bregman then sent a liner that Nick Allen speared with a leaping grab to end the frame.
Esteury Ruiz doubled with two outs in the sixth. He was originally called out on the play, but the A’s challenged and the call was overturned as Ruiz snuck his arm in and somehow avoided the tag from Altuve.
How did Ruiz avoid this tag?! pic.twitter.com/KQkDWyoIAc— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) May 21, 2023
However, Brent Rooker went down swinging against Valdez to leave him stranded.
Kaprielian was replaced by Sam Moll in the sixth. It was another good outing for Kaprielian who allowed three hits and one run over five innings. He walked four and finished with five strikeouts while throwing 82 pitches.
Moll immediately found himself in trouble as Yordan Alvarez doubled to lead off the inning. Moll then walked Abreu to put runners at first and second. Tucker then sent a grounder to Jordan Diaz, who flipped to second for the first out, but Allen’s relay throw to first was late to put runners at the corners. Pena then sent a liner that Diaz flagged down for the second out. With a chance to escape the inning, Moll uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Alvarez to score to increase the lead to 2-0. After a walk to Meyers, Mark Kotsay replaced Moll with Lucas Erceg who struck out McCormick for the third out.
Erceg found himself in hot water in the seventh as Maldonado doubled to right and Altuve worked another walk. He came back and struck out Bregman looking for the first out and was then replaced by Sam Long who walked Alvarez to load the bases. That brought Abreu to the plate who grounded to Aledmys Diaz at third. Diaz stepped on the bag and then threw across the diamond for an inning-ending double play.
The story of this game though was Valdez. The A’s managed an infield single by Jesus Aguilar in the second, an Aledmys Diaz single in the fifth and Ruiz’s double in the sixth over the first eight innings.
Nick Allen gave Oakland their fourth hit with a single to lead off the ninth. Ruiz bunted Allen to second, but was thrown out at first for the first out. Allen advanced to third on a ground out by Rooker, but was left there as Laureano struck out to end the game.
The loss is the A’s fourth straight and drops them to 10-38 for the season. They will make the trip to Seattle where they will begin a four game series against the Mariners on Monday.