It was not the offensive breakout we were all waiting and hoping for, but as an old saying goes: “May you be blessed with enough.” The offense scored 3 runs tonight; just enough. The pitching held the A’s to 2; just enough.
Astros scoring began in the third with an Alex Bregman RBI single, plating Tony Kemp, who had walked earlier. It was only Bregman’s 2nd RBI of the season, the other coming on a solo home run. See below.
The big blow for the Astros was Carlos Correa’s blast-off which seemed to want to scrape the roof of Minute Maid Park, but with the roof open, settled for the Shlumberger sign 388 feet past left center field. It was Carlos’ first home run of the year, but no one can doubt now that he is swinging with authority and bashing baseballs. He has four extra base hits to go with a .333 BA and +.900 OPS. Here it is.
The rest of the fourth inning was all too reminiscent of the frustrations the team has undergone offensively all year. After the Correa home run, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick followed with singles, and with one out Tony Kemp got his first hit of the year to load the bases. Hoping for that breakout inning, instead George Springer extinguished the rally with an inning ending double play, stranding three base runners, two in scoring position.
But the one was enough.
The Astros concluded their scoring in the seventh on a Jose Altuve double smashed deep to left center field scoring Springer, who had singled to open the inning.
The A’s scored in the fourth and the ninth on Ramon Laureano RBI singles. Laureano, a product of the Astros organization, went 4 for 4 today, and boosted his batting average from sub .200 to .263.
It was another Astros game in which pitching dominated, and again an Astro pitcher, in this case Collin McHugh, made a quality start...and then some. McHugh went six innings, allowed only one run on 3 hits with 4 strikeouts.
He had issues with command at times tonight. He walked three, and only had 56 strikes (eight swing and miss) out of 94 pitches total. Like last game he again showed extreme reliance on the slider, throwing it 27 times, with 30 fastballs, 14 cutters, and only five curves. The curve used to be McHugh’s put-away pitch and one of the best in baseball, but it is vanishing from his repertoire.
A crucial moment in the game was the A’s’ third inning. Laureano doubled to lead off, and then McHugh got wild, walking Robbie Grossman with one out and Stephen Piscotty with two outs. With the bases loaded league leading home run masher Kris Davis struck out swinging on a McHugh slider and the Astros keep the score tied until the Bregman RBI in the bottom of the inning.
For McHugh it was just enough.
Here’s a McHugh defensive gem later in the game.
Collin McHugh, Spectacular Belly Flop Play. pic.twitter.com/Al5cc6nkBa— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 6, 2019
After McHugh, Hector Rondon and Ryan Pressly pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings respectively, and closer Roberto Osuna allowed one run in the ninth but got the save.
It was an improved offensive performance for the Astros overall, getting nine hits total, and managing to hit 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position, a big improvement over the current season average.
Michael Brantley, after a hot start, has hit a bump in the road with his new team, going 0 for 15 since the last game he got a hit in on March 30th.
Tomorrow the A’s and Astros play another one, this time at 6:10 CDT. Aaron Brooks of the A’s faces Wade Miley in his second start with the Astros.
Box score and videos HERE.