The A‘s came into the game tonight 10-4 in one-run games, which is the only way to explain their lead over the Astros in the AL West.
Now they are 11-4.
Thanks mainly to Ramon Laureano, who scored three runs, had three RBI, two homers, and had the walk-off sac fly to give the A’s the come from behind 6-5 win, their first win against the Astros this season.
But never underestimate the power of the bullpen lead-off walk to help the other guys win. Two lead-off walks accounted for two of the A’s’ late-inning runs, plus another walk with one out which accounted for the go-ahead run in the ninth.
Bad job bullpen.
The Astros started the scoring in the first inning when, with two outs, Alex Bregman singled, Yuli Gurriel doubled, and Yordan Alvarez hit them both in with a double to center.
However, the A’s got one back in their half of the inning when the cast-off from the Astros organization, and one of its worst nemeses, Laureano, homered. He would hit another solo shot in the fourth as well.
Before Laureano’s shot in the fourth, Kyle Tucker added a run to the Astros lead with a giant solo shot way beyond the wall in right field.
But in the sixth, the A’s tied the score 3-3 with a Matt Olson solo homer, the third homer off starter Cristian Javier.
Javier left the game after the end of the sixth with a quality start, allowing three runs on three solo homers, allowing five hits and fanning nine A’s with only one walk. However, in Javier’s first four games he allowed no home runs. In his last four he has allowed seven.
The Astros took a two-run lead in the seventh when Michael Brantley doubled home Jose Altuve and later scored on a Yuli Gurriel sac fly.
In the seventh inning bullpen control problems began to rear their ugly head, as Enoli Paredes walked the leadoff hitter, eventually loading the bases on two walks and a single. This earned Paredes the hook, but Andre Scrubb limited the damage by allowing a sac fly and a flyout to end the inning, Astros still ahead 5-4.
The eighth-inning guy, Ryne Stanek, did what the seventh-inning guy did, walked the first batter, Ramon Laureano, and he too would score for the A’s on a Matt Chapman double.
This is the second time in a row when Ryne Stanek could not find the strike zone, as he has suddenly become just another question mark in the Astros bullpen.
And it could have been much worse. Sean Murphy had apparently hit a single up the middle that was miraculously stopped by Jose Altuve. Laid out flat and unable to throw the ball to Carlos Correa covering second, Altuve rolled it about five feet off the bag. Correa laid out to pick up the ball and gloved it, just as his foot straddled the bag for the force out. Altuve’s play probably saved a run and maybe more.
With two outs Bryan Abreu replaced Stanek and got a ground out to end the inning.
Abreu remained to pitch in the bottom of the ninth. Although he managed to get the first out against Tony Kemp, who was robbed of a hit by another defensive gem by Jose Altuve, Abreu walked the second batter, Mark Canha. Canha advanced to third on a single by Seth Brown, and scored the walk-off run on a...wait for it...Ramon Laureano sac fly.
The Stros outhit the A’s 13-8 and had five walks to the A’s’ six. But alas, hits aren’t the measure by which you win in baseball.
The Astros will lick their wounds tonight but hope to come back tomorrow behind Zack Greinke.
Box score and videos HERE.