Let’s face it. The Astros this year are mostly winning with pitching. We all know that. We see it almost every day. We’re probably spoiled by it it’s so good.
But in this series we’ve seen the bats come to life, with the Astros raking for 20 runs and 32 hits in the previous two games. Nice to see those old windmills turning again.
So another pitchers duel didn’t seem so bad today, and with Gerrit Cole pitching for the Astros, the main question was would the A’s be able to hold the Astros down as well as we knew Cole would hold the A’s.
For six complete innings they could. And then they couldn’t.
Lightning struck from an unlikely part of the lineup, and it struck twice for effect. In the seventh inning, batting from the normally anemic seventh spot in the Astros lineup, back up catcher, rookie Max Stassi, blasted a solo shot 414 feet to the opposite field in right to tie the game for the Astros 1-1. Batting eighth, and hitting left, Derek Fisher (BA .190 entering the game), outdid Stassi, creaming one 447 ft into the upper deck in straight away center, the third longest home run for the Astros this year.
Fisher is heating up. In his last six games he has two home runs in 10 at bats and an OPS of 1.300.
The Stassi, Fisher right left combo was all the run support that Gerrit Cole and the bullpen would need this day.
Cole was his ho hum, lights out, every time out, self again, limiting the A’s to 4 hits and 1 run in six innings, compiling 9 strikeouts. He leads MLB with 86 K’s in 8 games. He is second in the league in ERA and third in WHIP....just behind the Astros’ own Justin Verlander, who leads in both categories. Peripherals say he is the real deal, leading the league in FIP, xFIP and WAR (among pitchers).
Relievers Joe Smith, Will Harris and Ken Giles would close out the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings respectively with three perfect innings. Ken Giles earned his 5th save.
The A’s scored their only run in the 6th when former Astro Jed Lowrie doubled home Matt Joyce. The Astros finished their scoring in the eighth when Yuli Gurriel doubled home George Springer and Jose Altuve, both of whom reached base with singles. After so much production from George Springer the last two days, today it was Altuve who was hot, with 2 doubles among his three hits, and adding to his Astros record total of three hit games.
The Astros have a much needed day off tomorrow, and start a 3 game home series against the last place Texas Rangers on Friday. Poor Cole Hamels faces Justin Verlander. Game time 7:10 CDT.
See what George Springer does to Cole Hamels here
Box score here