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Ineffective bats cost Framber Valdez, Astros in Oakland

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A tough road trip takes another turn for the worst.

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Another day in 2020, another instance where something doesn’t break the Astros way. If it isn’t fallout from illegal sign-stealing, it’s another injury that further strains the pitching staff. If the pitching staff holds up their end of the bargain, it is the lineup’s turn to fade from sight. Or, you know, another extra inning game from hell like on Friday.

Today’s game got off to the wrong foot as Frankie Montas was dealing from the get-go. A leadoff home run by Marcus Semien put the Astros in an early hole that they never recovered. By the time Houston scored its first run courtesy of a RBI double by Alex Bregman in the top of the ninth, the A’s held a three run advantage. The story of the loss was the continuation of the lack of hitting, especially in critical situations.

The lineup, simply put, has been dreadful in the last two games. Poor at-bats repeatedly from the likes of Jose Altuve and the other stars in critical situations — 4-for-21 with RISP in this series — have stalled the offense. In turn, that increases the pressure on the pitching staff. This is particularly notable with an inexperienced bullpen currently with eight rookie relievers.

The silver lining today was starter Framber Valdez, who eased the strain placed on the bullpen the night before with a strong seven innings of one-run ball. A throwing error from catcher Dustin Garneau in the sixth inning eventually allowed the A’s to score their second run of the game. He also struck out nine while walking just one. It was one of the better pitched games that I’ve seen from Valdez for a while.

Honestly, Valdez deserved much better on a bright Saturday afternoon in Oakland. I think we all did.