Photo credit: @astros
By Morris Phillips
Make no mistake, there simply isn’t room for mistakes when facing the World Champion Astros.
The A’s got an idea of what it will take to compete against arguably the best team in the majors over the weekend, and errors aren’t a part of the winning equation. In a tie game in the seventh inning on Sunday, and with a chance to capture the three-game series, the A’s started booting the ball around.
A leadoff walk, followed by three Oakland errors propelled Houston’s three-run rally, in their 8-4 win over the A’s that gave them the initial series of the season between the AL West foes. Afterwards, the A’s had no one to blame but themselves.
“Defensively, we just gave it up,” Jonathan Lucroy admitted. “We gave them too many free bags, and you give guys free bags, you’re going to get hurt, especially against a team like that. We got to be better on the defensive side.”
Until the pivotal frame, the A’s seemed to have a grasp on the monumental task at hand. Tied 3-3 after 6 1/2 innings, the A’s had given as good as they got, and were in position to capture the game, and the series. That despite getting shutout 11-0 on Saturday, and suffering through the entirety of Gerrit Cole’s 12-strikeout performance.
By striking out 12 A’s, Cole set an Astros franchise record for strikeouts in the month of April with 61. That number allowed Cole–the Astros’ key off-season trade acquisition from the Pirates–to join and surpass Randy Johnson, Mike Scott and J.R. Richard, as good a trio of strikeout pitchers to come out of any MLB organization.
But in and around all the strikeouts, the A’s scratched together single runs in the third, sixth and seventh to tie. The A’s were in position to steal one, only to rob themselves.