Zero for ten with runners in scoring position. Ten runners left on base on the losing side of a 3-2 game. That’s basically all you need to know about the Astros in this game.
Normally in a game recap I describe the runs that were scored. Tonight it is more relevant to describe the runs that weren’t scored.
Let’s start with the third inning. Robinson Chirinos led off with a double and got to third on a Josh Reddick double, no outs. Yes, George Springer did manage to get Chirinos home on a fielder’s choice, but Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley both left Josh Reddick stranded on third base.
Or the sixth inning. Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley started the inning each walking. Man on second, no outs. Alex Bregman then struck out, Jose Altuve got called out on an attempted steal, and Yordan Alvarez struck out to end the inning.
It was the second costly base running error by Altuve in two nights.
Let’s talk about the eighth inning. Yes, it was glorious to see Altuve’s 27th homer, a monster shot to the train tracks with one out in the inning to bring the team to within one run. However, after the Astros loading the bases following the solo shot by Altuve, Kyle Tucker looked completely confused striking out and stranding three runners.
The ninth inning was the worst. Still down only one run, the Astros got the first two runners on base, no outs. (Yuli Gurriel singled, his first game back since his hamstring injury) This brought up the very top of the order, with pinch-runner Miles Straw on second. George Springer struck out on three fastballs by closer Liam Hendricks. Jose Altuve flied out to right field, advancing Straw to third. Which left everything up to Michael Brantley, of whom it is sometimes said, he never strikes out. Brantley struck out looking.
0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Ten runners left on base. George Springer, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez were a combined 1 for 15 tonight.
The Astros only had six hits, but the A’s pitching walked seven, thus the many (missed) opportunities.
A’s starter Homer Bailey, who ended the game with a season ERA of 4.76, only allowed three hits and no homers. He was the winning pitcher.
Justin Verlander took the loss, but things could have been much worse for him. In the first three innings he had trouble throwing strikes, and in the first inning he faced six batters, but allowed only one run on a Seth Brown double.
In the third inning Verlander surrendered a two run homer to Matt Olson.
After the third, Verlander returned to his normal dominance, retiring his last 11 batters before leaving after the sixth inning. He struck out 11 batters. Despite his quality start however, Verlander took the loss.
A silver lining in this one was the performance of the bullpen, as Joe Smith, Josh James, in a bit of redemption, and Roberto Osuna, pitched scoreless seventh, eighth, and ninth innings respectively.
For the second straight year, the Oakland A’s are making a strong run at the end of the season, again setting themselves up as the Cinderella team of the American League. I’m sure that in Oakland right now they are celebrating this game and this series victory as a statement. Although 7.5 games is too many to make up to catch the Astros for the AL West lead, they are currently a half game ahead of the Indians for the second Wild Card spot.
I doubt anyone wants to face them in the first round of the playoffs.
The Astros dropped to two games behind the Yankees for the AL lead and home field advantage.
Tomorrow the Astros travel to Kansas City for a three game series against the Royals.
Gerrit Cole faces Danny Duffy.
Here’s the Altuve homer.
Box score and videos HERE.