The Astros seem bound and determined to do this the hard way, losing their fourth straight and getting swept by the A’s.
Hitting for the Astros has been a, shall I say, hit and miss proposition all year; the most consistent thing about their hitting is its inconsistency. So let’s hope that this current hitting drought is followed by a playoff torrent of hits and runs.
The A’s started the scoring in this game with a run in the second thanks to former Astro and old friend, Tony Kemp. He singled in Seth Brown, who led off the inning with a double.
It was the only run Astros starter Jake Odorizzi surrendered in four innings, allowing four hits, two walks, while whiffing two A’s.
The Astros were hitless against A’s starter Paul Blackburn until the fifth inning when three 2-out singles resulted in a run, the RBI coming on an infield single from the bat of Jose Siri, scoring Jason Castro. Credit to Castro for making a heads-up advance to third on the preceding Chas McCormick single allowing him to score on the Siri single.
The Astros vaulted to a 3-1 lead in the sixth on an Alex Bregman lead off homer. The Stros immediately followed with an RBI double by Yuli Gurriel, scoring Yordan Alvarez, who beat out an RBI single in front of Gurriel.
Gurriel’s 2 -4 day left him with a league leading .317 batting average.
Cristian Javier replaced Odorizzi for the Astros and cruised early on, striking out his first five batters en route to perfect fifth and sixth innings.
In the seventh the A’s got to Javier and his bullpen relief, scoring two after a lead off single by Kemp (another former Astro getting revenge: 3-4: RBI, run scored), followed by a Yan Gomes hit by pitch. Both runners advanced on a Vimael Machin sacrifice bunt.
Javier got Starling Marte out on a grounder to second, but Kemp scored on the play. At this point manager Dusty Baker replaced Javier with Phil Maton, who walked Matt Olson, and then allowed the tying run with a single to Mark Canha. Both runs were charged to Javier.
The Astros threatened to take the lead in the top of the ninth after two bloop singles by Jose Siri and Alex Bregman. Inexplicably, Siri tried to score from first on Bregman’s hit but was thrown out at home.
In the bottom of the ninth against Ryne Stanek the A’s got the first two runners on base on a Sean Murphy single and a Machin bunt that was ruled a single after Yuli Gurriel tried but failed to catch the ball in the air. Both runners advanced on a Martin Maldonado passed ball.
It didn’t matter. With one out Mark Canha lined a single to the wall in left-center field on Ryan Pressly’s first pitch to give the A’s the 4-3 walk-off win, and a series sweep of the Stros in Oakland.
The magic number is two for the Astros. The Astros don’t play until Tuesday, which will be their next chance to clinch the division.
In the last four games, all losses, the Astros have averaged two runs per inning. Chances are they’re going to need to do better than that against the tough Rays team coming into Minute Maid Park Tuesday. Game time 7:10 CDT.