by Charlie O. Mallonee and Jordan Chapin
“Let’s play two” is the baseball quote made famous by the late, great Ernie Banks. The problem is for most baseball fans is they really have no idea what Banks was referring to when he made that famous statement.
Sure, most baseball fans have heard about day-night doubleheaders where one game is played in the afternoon then the stadium is cleared and the second game is played several hours later as a night game. Of course separate tickets are required for each game.
On Saturday, the Astros and Athletics scheduled a “twin bill” the old fashion way. The first game started at 1:05 p.m. and the second is scheduled to start approximately 45-minutes after game one is over. And, only one ticket is required to see both games.
As Bill King would say, “Holy Toledo!”
The Athletics needed a strong pitching performance from their starter Daniel Gossett because the pitching staff would be taxed playing a minimum of 18 innings on Saturday. Gossett was trying to bounce back from a less than stellar start last Sunday in Seattle that lasted just 3.2-innings and resulted in Gossett recording his eighth loss of the season.
The problem for Gossett has been the way opponents hit off him after they see him one time through the order. The batting average against Gossett the first time through the order is just .211. The batting average against Gossett jumps to .356 after that first time look at his pitches.
Gossett struck out four Astro hitters and gave up no runs on two hits in the first two innings. In the top of the third, Gossett issued back-to-back walks and the A’s dugout began holding their breath. Gossett then retired Bregman, Altuve and Correa to get out of the inning.
Gossett was able to come out to start the top of the seventh inning but he walked the first batter and Bob Melvin came to the mound to take him out the game. Melvin no doubt had some words of praise for his starter as well. Gossett (4-8,5.02) pitched 6.0-innings giving up just one run (earned) off five hits. He struck out seven and walked just three. The 99-pitch effort by Gossett was most definitely a “quality start”.
The Athletics also exploded for 11 runs against the Astros. Houston starter Charlie Morton (11-7, 3.86) was expected to be a real problem for the A’s hitters on Saturday. Morton gave up a double to the Athletics leadoff batter Marcus Semien in the first inning and then proceeded to record three consecutive strikeouts. It looked like it might be a long day for the A’s.
The Athletics (61-80) broke through for three runs off Morton in the second inning and never looked back in the game. The A’s put three more runs up on the board in the sixth inning and then broke the bank with a five-run eighth inning that forced the Astros to use J.D. Davis — an infielder — to close out the game on the mound.
The powerful Astros (86-55) were not able to generate anything on offense. The scored only one run off their five hits.
On the hill
- The A’s relievers did their job in game one holding up their starter Gossett by putting up the coveted “Goose Eggs” in their three innings of work.
- Ryan Dull and Simon Castro not only allow zero (Goose Eggs) runs in three innings of relief but they allowed not no hits and just one base runner via a walk. That is the perfect scenario for a bullpen to preserve a win.
- The Astros pitchers were their own worst enemies in game one of the doubleheader. As a staff they issued 13 base-on-balls and struck out 12.
- Houston pitchers walked in five of the 11 runs they gave up to the Athletics in game. That will give managers and pitching coaches ulcers and nightmares.
- The Astros gave up 11 runs on just 11 hits to Oakland
In the batter’s box
- The “2 Matts” had another big game for the A’s. Matt Olson 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and two runs scored. Matt Chapman was 1-for-4 with two runs, one Rbi, one walk and one triple.
- Boog Powell enjoyed his day with the bat going 2-for-4 posting two Rbi to go with three runs scored.
- Khris Davis posted his 100th Rbi to become the first Athletic to have back-to-back 100-plus Rbi seasons since Miguel Tejada accomplished that feat in 2002-03.
- A’s batters walked 13 times in the game and struck out 12 times — that is bat control.
- Frankly there are not many highlights for Houston. They were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Houston left six men on base.
- The big blow for the ‘Stros was Alex Bregman’s double in the fifth inning that drove home the only run for Houston.
Astros catcher Juan Centeno started the game but had to leave the contest in second inning when he took a bat off the back of the head from a hard swing by Matt Joyce. He is being evaluated for a possible concussion.