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A's 2, Astros 1: Offense Disappears In McCullers' Debut

Rookie pitches well in first outing, but bats are silent in series opener

Bob Levey/Getty Images

What Happened

The Astros five game winning streak came to an end with a whimper.  The offense that ripped through the Jays this past weekend was not there tonight.  Drew Pomeranz held the team to 2 infield hits, and the A's bullpen only allowed one baserunner over the final 4 2/3 innings.  They had their chances to score but could not get a big inning going.  In a very appropriate turn of events the Astros scored their only run in the first inning not only without a hit, but without even an official at-bat.  Jose Altuve was hit by a pitch, stole a base, was bunted over to third, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Evan Gattis.  Pomeranz walked five batters on the night, so there were all kinds of runners on base in the 3rd through the 5th innings, but the key hit never came.

Lance McCullers, Jr pitched pretty well for a 21 year old who had not pitched above AA ball in his major league debut.  He was a little wild at times as evidenced by the 56 pitches he threw in the first two innings.  At other times though he looked like a polished pitcher.  After those first 2 innings he settled down, and at one point he sat down nine straight batters.  He was pulled in the fifth inning when the pitch count caught up with him.  On the night he only gave up one run on 3 hits and 3 walks with 5 strikeouts.  This is the first time I have seen him pitch and I think we could see big things from him as he matures.

Lots of credit for keeping the game close goes to the defense.  Oakland took the lead in the 6th when Joe Thatcher loaded the bases with a single and 2 walks.  Will Harris came in and gave up a run on a single, but after that Harris got a comebacker and threw home to prevent the run from scoring.  With the bases still loaded Chris Carter made a great grab on a grounder by Eric Sogard, tagged first for one out and made a perfect throw home to cut down the runner and end the inning without any further damage.

So the Astros have a chance to start another streak tomorrow, as Roberto Hernandez goes against Sonny Gray in the middle game of the series at 7pm.

Fun Facts

Sam Fuld made a great running catch on Tal's Hill to rob George Springer of extra bases in the 8th inning, on a ball that probably would have been a HR in most parks...

Altuve's 29 game hitting streak against Oakland came to an end tonight.

Tweet of the Night

So how do you really feel about the hill...?

See!  I told you!

Is this a Springer joke?