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Cole Deals, A’s Defense Reels, Late Stros Offense Seals the Win, 8-4

Astros take Series with the A’s 2-1

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
Brian McCann scores from 1st
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Another superb performance by Gerrit Cole, sloppy defense by the A’s, and opportunistic offense with some slick base running, gave the Houston Astros an 8-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics on this beautiful Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. The Astros claimed the series, 2-1.

Cole, who gave up 3 tough luck earned runs on 6 hits, dominated the A’s hitters with 12 K’s in 6.2 innings. He leads the league in strikeouts and his ERA remains an immaculate 1.73 for the year. His 0 walks today is the third straight game in which Astros starters did not walk a batter.

Cole cruised through two perfect innings before giving up a run on back to back doubles to Chad Pinder and Jonathon Lucroy in the third inning.

The Astros retaliated in the bottom of the inning with 2 runs scored with a little help of some small ball. Marwin Gonzalez opened the inning with a drag bunt single. Jake Marisnick advanced him to second on a catcher’s interference. George Springer got the first of his two RBI with a single, scoring Gonzalez. Jose Altuve plated the second run with a squeeze bunt, scoring Marisnick.

The Stros’ next run came in the fifth on a George Springer solo home run, his second in two days and 6th for the year, tied for the team lead with Josh Reddick.

The A’s got a run back in the sixth with a little help from Lady Luck. With Lucroy on third with 2 outs, Cole induced a routine grounder to first baseman Yuli Gurriel. The third hop jumped right up into Gurriel’s shoulder and bounced away. The “base hit” scored Lucroy,

The A’s tied the score in the seventh after a Stephen Piscotty double and a Jonathon Lucroy RBI single. Reliever Will Harris gave up the RBI single but the run was charged to Cole. It was the first time this year that Cole has surrendered as many as 3 earned runs or failed to complete seven innings.

Prior to that run, the Astros bullpen had only allowed one inherited runner to score in 18 opportunities.

Jonathon Lucroy was 3-4 today with 2 of the A’s’ 4 RBI and one run scored.

In the bottom of the seventh the Astros took the lead and never looked back (with a little help form the A’s D)

Alex Bregman started the inning with a walk and took third after Lucroy’s attempt to throw out Bregman stealing went astray. Brian McCann, pinch hitting for Max Stassi, muffed the sacrifice opportunity with a shallow pop-up just beyond the infield near second base. Luckily, Marcus Semien dropped the fly and the throw home was just late behind the racing Bregman. Marisnick then hit a towering double that miraculously scored the lumbering McCann from first, who barely beat the tag at home. Altuve finished the scoring in the seventh with an RBI single, plating Marisnick.

The Astros added their final two runs in the eighth with a Josh Reddick walk, an Alex Bregman HBP, an RBI single by Gonzalez scoring Reddick, and a McCann sac fly scoring Bregman

The Astros had only 7 hits with their eight runs, but left only 4 runners on base.

The A’s were runless in the eighth against Chris Devenski, but added a garbage run in the ninth with a Pinder solo home run against Joe Smith.

The losing pitcher was Trevor Cahill, who pitched six innings with 3 earned runs. The winner in this game was Will Harris, who also had a blown save.

The Astros are 19-10 for the season, the same record they had this time last year. They occupy first place in the AL West. The Good Guys host the Bronx Bombers tomorrow for the first game in an early season statement series at minute Maid Park. No doubt the Yankess would like a little revenge for their loss to the Stros in last year’s ALCS. Game time 7:10 CDT. Charlie Morton of the Stros goes against the struggling Sonny Gray.

Box Score here

Who’s Hot: Since last Monday the following hitters have been on the upswing. Jose Altuve has improved his OPS 48 points to .857. George Springer has improved 59 points to .837. Alex Bregman has gone up 70 points to .738. Marwin Gonzalez has improved 86 points to .692. Derek Fisher has improved 212 points to .635. And Jake Marisnick has gone up 101 points to .458. Keep it up boys.

Question: Since April 19th the only Astros relief pitcher to surrender a run is Joe Smith, who has allowed 7 in his last three appearances and currently sports a 9.64 ERA. Can he improve, or is this it? He has a 2 year, $15 million salary. He was brought here to get right handed hitters out, such as the right handed killers row the Stros are about to face this week. So far he can’t get through an inning without giving up a run even against right handers. Does Smith play this week against the Yankees? Is he a sunk cost or is it too soon to say? What do you think?