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Astros waste unexpected Urquidy gem. Drop to A’s 5-3

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Josh James meltdown and wasted opportunities difference in game.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

On what was advertised as a bullpen day, opener Jose Urquidy, recent AAA call-up, flashed top of the rotation stuff against an Oakland A’s team which the day before had scored 21 runs. He left the game in the fifth inning, having allowed one run, but striking out 10 A’s, while walking only one and allowing only one hit. Unfortunately, the one hit was a solo home run by Marcus Semien.

Nonetheless, Urquidy left the game with a lead, thanks to a solo George Springer home run in the 3rd inning and an Aledmys Diaz double in the fourth that scored Yordan Alvarez from first base.

Here’s Urquidy’s 10 Ks.

Here’s Springer’s home run, his 34th, which equals his career high.

Although the Astros scored in the fourth inning, they wasted a golden opportunity to score even more when speedy Myles Straw left the bases loaded grounding into a double play.

The Astros also left the bases loaded in the fifth when Oakland starter Brett Anderson intentionally walked Alex Bregman to get to Yordan Alvarez. (That’s a lot of respect for Alex) Alvarez left everyone on base with a weak ground out.

Prior to this, Jose Altuve was thrown out at home trying to score from first on a Michael Brantley single by the cannon arm of Ramon Laureano.

Despite wasting scoring opportunities, the Astros were ahead 2-1 when Urquidy left the game in the fifth. That would not last long.

On a night of otherwise stellar pitching, Josh James did his best Wade Miley/Joe Biagini imitation from the previous game. Brand new A’s rookie phenom, Sean Murphy, greeted Josh James with a home run, his fourth in 19 big league PA’s.

Marcus Semien followed this with a single, Matt Chapman was hit by a pitch, followed by a two-run Matt Olson double.

James was taken out of the game, but Olson would score when Joe Smith gave up a single to Kris Davis, ending the As’ scoring for the night. Josh James faced four batters, all of them scored. He was credited with a blown save and the loss.

Though flashing stability since his return from IL on September 2nd, allowing only one run and two walks in his four innings before this game, tonight the doubts about the consistency of Josh James have reemerged with a vengeance. And just when questions abound about most of the remaining bullpen as well.

The Astros would get back one more run in the bottom of the sixth on this Martin Maldonado home run, his third in two nights.

Alex Bregman made this highlight video double play from third base on a Kris Davis ground ball in the fifth.

Tomorrow the A’s don’t face broken Wade Miley, or an over-achieving AAA opener, they face Justin Verlander on his vision quest for another Cy Young award. Good luck. Homer Bailey is his mound opponent.

The Astros’ magic number to clinch the AL West remains eight. They are currently a half game behind the Yankees for the lead of the AL, who did not play tonight due to a rain-out in Detroit.

Box score and videos HERE.