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Astros Wilt Again. Fall to Oakland 6-2. Lead in AL West Down to One.

Verlander gets bombed. Offense bombs out.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to say what was the worst thing about this game.

Was it that the Astros are squandering their AL West championship chances, and even their playoff chances, by losing a series to a team with the second-worst record in MLB?

Or is it that, even if the Astros do make the playoffs, they have to send Justin Verlander out as the second guy in the rotation, and after that...


It seems like the Justin Verlander whom we know and love, only shows up every other game. In his last start against Arlington, he outdueled fellow future HOFer Max Scherzer for a convincing win.

Tonight was bad Verlander. He was easy pickings from the start for the A’s offense. The Astros were down 3-0 before even getting to bat, thanks to a double, single, and a two-run homer by Shea Langeliers that hit the locomotive above the Crawford Boxes.

The Astros answered with one run in the bottom of the first. The Astros loaded the bases with one out thanks to an Altuve lead-off single and a ...believe it..... Yordan Alvarez perfect bunt single.

A KyleTucker fielder’s choice scored Altuve, but a Jose Abreu strikeout stranded Alvarez at third.

The A’s added a run in the third on doubles by Zack Gelof and Seth Brown. And in the fifth, Tony Kemp, yes, THAT Tony Kemp, hit a solo dinger to score the fifth A’s run against Verlander. In 28 career starts against the A’s, that ties for the most Verlander has ever surrendered to the A’s. And we can be sure those other A’s teams packed a lot more punch than this version.

The Astros answered in the bottom of the fifth on a single by Mauricio Dubon and a single by Maldonado that skimmed off the glove of the third baseman. It should have been a double by Maldonado, but he jogged to first and never considered stretching his hit.

It cost doubly on the next play, as the A’s starting pitcher, JP Sears, caught an Altuve bloop Willie Mays style that could have dropped in front of second base. Then Sears turned and threw out Maldonado at first, who was caught between first and second bases.

However, a Jeremy Pena double allowed the Astros to salvage one run out of the inning.

The A’s added another meaningless run in the eighth inning, but with the Astros’ anemic offensive production, it didn’t matter. Any more than a quality start by Verlander would have mattered pitching behind a team that managed only six hits and was 1-6 with runners in scoring position.

Two of those LOBsters were by Yordan Alvarez, who whiffed three times. His only hit in this series was the bunt in the first inning of this game.

The Rangers won their game against the Blue Jays, which leaves the Astros only one game ahead in the race for the AL West Championship. The Mariners are currently beating the Angels 6-0, and assuming they hold the lead, that will leave them 1.5 games behind. The Astros are only 1.5 games ahead for the last Wild Card position over the Blue Jays.

If the Astros can’t play better at home and against bad teams, they face the real possibility of watching this year’s playoffs from their home TVs.

Box score HERE.