After losing a tough, one-run, extra inning battle to the A’s Friday, the A’s outscored the Astros 10-3 in the next two games, taking down the listless Astros 7-2 today in Oakland.
This shaped up to be a pitcher’s duel between two hot rookie pitchers, but it turned out that only the A’s starter, Jesus Luzardo, was firing bullets. The Astros starter, Cristian Javier, who came into the game with a 1.62 ERA, only went three innings, surrendering five runs.
The home run bug hit the inexperienced rookie today. Regression’s a bitch. He found out that fastballs down the middle that get by AA hitters find the bleachers in the big leagues. Robbie Grossman gave Javier his first lesson on what not to throw a big league hitter in the second inning, lifting a solo shot deep into the right field bleachers.
And in the third Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, two formerly slumping A’s sluggers, reinforced the lesson with a one-two knockout; Olson going deep after two (uncharacteristic) Javier walks, and then Chapman delivering the knockout on the very next pitch.
In one game Javier’s ERA went from under two to 4.02. Growing pains of a talented rookie. Even with the mistakes he threw, Javier still struck out five in three innings.
In the fourth inning another rookie, Brandon Bailey, who came to the Astros organization in the Ramon Laureano trade, (more on Laureano forthcoming) replaced Javier. He managed to escape 1.2 innings only allowing one run, and that a fluke. He started the fifth inning allowing a single and then hitting Ramon Laureano, putting runners on first and second with no outs. But he induced two pop outs when Dusty Baker replace him with Andre Scrubb, runners on second a third.
Scrubb got a grounder from Mark Canha that he couldn’t handle that should have been out three, but instead it was scored as an RBI single for the A’s sixth run.
The A’s added their seventh and final run when Ramon Laureano was again hit by a curveball thrown by the Astros’ fourth pitcher, rookie Humberto Castellanos. The pinch runner for Laureano ended up scoring on a double, but the real story was Laureano’s reaction to his second HBP. He came storming after Astros batting coach, Alex Cintron, but got tackled by big catcher Dustin Garneau before getting to Cintron. Meanwhile the dugouts emptied and both teams pretended to have a fight.
Things get crazy in Oakland pic.twitter.com/IojsFX8Mpj— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 9, 2020
Expect a long suspension for Laureano in this season of Covid, and possibly one for Cintron as well.
The Astros scored their only two runs on a Yuli Gurriel homer in the fourth off Luzardo, who has been the only Astro hitting much in this series, with four hits, a homer, two doubles and a single.
Carlos Correa, who in the early going of this short season might get some consideration for MVP, cooled off considerably today, going 0-4, striking out twice, including once with the bases loaded in the sixth with two outs.
When it comes to two-out hitting the A’s were masters today, getting all seven runs with two out.
The Astros only managed nine baserunners all game, and were 1-4 with runners in scoring position.
Oh yeah, Dusty Baker got thrown from the game for cussing out the umpire on a called strike. (The game feed showed it was a strike)
The Astros are currently five and a half games behind the A’s in the race for first place in the AL West and are 1⁄2 game behind the Rangers for the all-important second place position that guarantees a slot in the playoffs.
Tomorrow the Stros take on the Giants in Minute Maid Park after going 3-6 on the road trip.
Game time is 8:10 CDT. The so-far erratic Lance McCullers takes the mound for the Stros hoping to staunch the bleeding of a five game losing streak.
The Giants Pitcher is unannounced.
Box score and videos HERE.