The Oakland Athletics took on the visiting Houston Astros in game two of the four game series tonight at the Oakland Coliseum. After dropping game one last night, A’s skipper Mark Kotsay sent JP Sears to the mound to face the Astros ace, lefthander Framber Valdez. Sears, a 27-year-old lefty is 1-6 on the year with a 3.99 ERA in nineteen starts. Valdez is 7-6 in 2023 with a 2.76 ERA and 129 strikeouts in eighteen starts.
With two outs in the top of the first inning, the Astros got on the board first with a Kyle Tucker home run to deep right centerfield. It was Tucker’s 15th of the season. Tony Kemp led off the A’s half of the inning with a rue hustle double. He moved to third on a Zack Gelof fly out. But when the inning ended, Kemp had been stranded on third.
With two outs in the top of the third, Sears battled Astros cleanup hitter Alex Bregman for ten pitches before Bregman launched number eleven, an 85 MPH changeup into the leftfield bleachers for a two-run homer. That brought the score to 3-0, Astros.
Tony Kemp got things started in the bottom half of the third. He was hit on the wrist by a Valdez pitch and then promptly stole second. Gelof walked and Jordan Diaz singled to score Kemp. At the end of three innings, the score was 3-1 in favor of the visitors.
Tucker continued his hot hitting in the top of the fifth, slamming a two-run homer to right field, scoring Jeremy Peña. Tucker’s home run was the 24th given up by JP Sears in the 2023 campaign.
Nick Allen singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Tony Kemp singled, putting runners on first and second. Zack Gelof singled to right field loading the bases with no outs. Jordan Diaz walked in a run bringing up former Astros utility player Aledmys Díaz. A Díaz sacrifice fly scored Tony Kemp. JJ Bleday grounded out to first baseman Jose Abreu scoring Gelof to make it 5-4. In a blink of an eye, the A’s were back in the game.
With two down in the top of the sixth, Sears gave way to Tayler Scott who was making his Athletics debut. Scott, born in Johannesburg, South Africa, was picked up off waivers from the Red Sox on Wednesday. Cody Thomas, pinch hitting for Jonah Bride greeted Astros reliever Phil Maton with a double into the right field corner. A Maton wild pitch sent Thomas to third with one out. But two non-productive fly outs ended the inning with Thomas still on third.
Kyle Tucker went yard for the Hat-trick in the top of the seventh. His third right field bomb on the night brought the score to 6-4. Righty Austin Pruitt replaced Scott in the top of the eighth and made quick work of the Astros hitters with an efficient 1-2-3 inning.
Hector Neris entered to pitch the eighth for the Astros. He proceeded to walk JJ Bleday and Shea Langeliers. Thomas popped out catcher Martin Maldonado and then Seth Brown ground into a double play to end the inning. Pruitt mowed down three more Astros hitters in the top of the ninth, leading to an A’s showdown with closer Ryan Pressly, sitting on ninety-nine career saves in the bottom of the ninth. Pressly was up to the task giving up only one walk and retiring the side logging his 100th career save.