Photo credit: @Athletics
By Jerry Feitelberg
OAKLAND — The Houston Astros pounded the A’s 7-3 at the O.co Coliseum on Thursday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep.
The Astros were in complete control for the entire three games and showed everyone why they are one of the best teams in all of baseball. They have the best starting rotation in baseball, and their everyday lineup is loaded with hitters loaded with confidence. They won a World Championship last year, and they are intent on going back to the playoffs and trying to win the big prize for the second year in a row.
Justin Verlander started for Houston and the big righty cruised to his ninth win of the year. Oakland starter Frankie Montas was no match for the powerful Astros’ offense, and he absorbed his first loss of the season.
With two out in the first inning, the Astros put two runs on the board. Carlos Correa singled and scored on Yuli Guriel’s double off the wall in left field. Josh Reddick singled to drive in Guriel with the second run of the inning. Reddick was thrown out trying to go to second on the throw home.
In the bottom of the second, A’s designated hitter, Khris Davis, homered to make it a 2-1 game. For Davis, it was his 20th big fly of the year and his third–all solo jobs–in the last two games. Verlander settled down ,and retired the next three A’s hitters in order.
The Astros plated their run of the game in the third inning. With one out, Montas walked Jose Altuve. Atuve advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Carlos Correa’s second single of the game to put the ‘Stros up 3-1.
The Astros’ offense continued the onslaught in the fourth. Montas retired the notorious A’s killer, Evan Gattis, for the first out. He then walked Marwin Gonzalez. Astros’ catcher Brian McCann slammed his fifth home run of the year into the seats in right field. The Astros lead 5-1 in the middle of the fourth.
In the top of the sixth, A’s third baseman Matt Chapman, who is a terrific fielder, had an inning that he would like to remove from his memory. Astros’ catcher Brian McCann hit a high pop up that Chappie lost in Oakland’s famous “high sky.” He couldn’t find the ball and when he did it bounced off his chest for an error. Tony Kemp followed with a smash that Chapman smothered but couldn’t make the play at first. The official scorer ruled it a hit. Alex Bregman hit a ground ball to Chapman Chapman stepped on third for the force out but his throw home sailed over Matt Olson’s glove. Kemp scored on the play and Bregman went to second. Chapman was charged with his second error of the inning. Jose Altuve doubled to drive in Bregman. A’s manager Bob Melvin walked to the mound and took the ball from Montas. Santiago Casilla retired the two Astros’ hitters necessary to end the inning. The score was 7-1 in favor of Houston.
Khris Davis led off the seventh with a high pop up that Astros’ first baseman Yuli Guriel could not find in the high sky. The ball dropped safely and Davis wound up on second base with a double. Matt Olson then took a Justin Verlander fastball into the right field bleacher for his 14th tater of the year and now trail the Astros 7-3.
The Astros’ manager A.J.Hinch used Chris Devenski in the 8th and Hector Rondon in the ninth as they shut down the A’s in order in each of the last two innings. Houston won 7-3.
Game Notes: With the win, the Astros improve to 45-25. The A’s are now one game under .500 with a mark of 34-35. Justin Verlander won his ninth game of the season while A’s starter Frankie Montas lost his first. Verlander went seven complete and allowed three runs and five hits. Montas pitched five and 1.3rd innings and was tagged for seven runs. Five were earned and two were unearned. Verlander is 9-2 and Montas is 3-1.
The Astros’ line score was seven runs on 13 hits and no errors. Brian McCann hit the Astros’ only home run.
All the A’s runs were the result of a home run. Khris Davis hit a solo job in the second and Matt Olson clobbered a two-run dinger in the seventh. The A’s scored three runs on five hits and they committed two errors on defense.
Thursday’s game with the Astros took two hours and 45 minutes.
13.009 fans were in attendance.
Up Next: The A’s finish the 10-game homestand with three games against the Los Angeles Angels.
The A’s Chris Bassitt (0-1, 1.29 ERA) will handle the pitching chores and he will be opposed by lefty Tyler Skaggs (5-4, 3.08 ERA).
Friday night’s game will start at 6:35 pm PDT.
There will be a fireworks show immediately after the game.