After our esteemed writer, Dan 410, called out manager Dusty Baker yesterday for costly mistakes in constructing the lineup, apparently the old skipper took Dan’s expert advice. Following 410’s wise counsel, Baker put Chas McCormick in the lineup, whose two hits, including a homer, accounted for the winning runs in the Astros’ 3-1 win over the A’s in Oakland.
But on a night when Astros starter Cristian Javier had difficulty finding the strike zone the A’s scored first. After getting doubles with one out or less in the first two innings but failing to score, the A’s finally broke through in the fourth inning when Christian Pache singled home Elvis Andrus, who doubled with two outs.
It would be the last run the A’s would score.
The Astros tied the score in the fifth inning on a McCormick single scoring Yordan Alvarez, who led off the inning with a single. However, Jeremy Pena, who also singled earlier, ended the inning by getting thrown out in a run-down between third and home during the run-scoring play.
In the bottom of the fifth, the A’s almost regained the lead but were stymied by a stunning defensive play. After a leadoff single by Ramon Laureano and with runners on second and third with no outs, Sean Murphy hit a two-hopper to Alex Bregman. In a play reminiscent of a play during the 2017 ALCS that will live forever in Astros lore, Bregman threw a strike to home that just beat the speedy Laureano. Reliever Phil Maton proceeded to get the next two batters to end the threat without harm.
In the eighth inning, the Astros scored two runs entirely with true outcomes. McCormick hit a lead-off homer off Frankie Montas that sent the hard luck loser to the showers. Montas allowed only two runs in seven innings on seven hits and five strikeouts.
Montas was replaced by Zack Jackson, who promptly walked four straight Astros accounting for the third Astros run. Jackson was the first pitcher in A’s history to walk his first four batters.
Cristian Javier was largely ineffective tonight, allowing four hits (3 doubles) and four walks in four innings, but somehow getting out of trouble well enough to surrender only one run. His relief, consisting of Phil Maton, Ryne Stanek, Rafael Montero, Hector Neris, and Ryan Pressly, held the A’s scoreless after the fourth inning. Pressly got the save, despite allowing a leadoff hit to Tony Kemp but ending the game on a double play.
The Astros go for a series sweep in Oakland behind Justin Verlander. Game time 2:37 CT.