Photo credit: @sfnewsnow
By: Lewis Rubman
R | H | E
Houston: 3 | 8 | 0
Oakland: 2 | 6 | 1
OAKLAND — Both the division leading Houston Astros (37-20) and the second place Oakland Athletics (29-27) went into tonight’s contest facing problems that hadn’t existed a week ago. The Astros lost the services of Carlos Correa, the Rookie of the Year for 2015 and 2018 shortstop, when a massage therapist walked all over him, cracking his ribs. This came on the heels of José Altuve’s being placed on the injured list on May 11. The A’s saw their 11-game unbeated streak broken and initiated a two-game losing streak. In those games, the team showed an outstanding ability to overcome late inning deficits, but also experienced some distressing breakdowns in the back end of the their bullpen.
One of the unpleasant surprises of Wednesday’s 11-inning loss by the A’s to the Angels was a third inning error by the usually impeccable Gold and Platinum Glove winner, Matt Chapman. Tonight, the Astros mounted their first threat of the game in the top of the first when what would have been a double play ground ball by Robinson Chirinos went through Chapman’s legs, setting up a two men on, one man out situation. Fortunately for the hometown crew, starting pitcher Mike Fiers (4-3, 5.00 ERA) picked off an overeager Yuli Gurriel, who had advanced to second on the previous play, and then got Tyler White to fly out to Laureano in center.
It looked as if the A’s would get to Houston’s starter, Brad Peacock (5-2, 3.19 ERA) in the second, when Canha and Profar walked to open the inning. But Laureano hit into a 5-4-3 double play, and Phegley flew out to left.
An inning later, Chapman took the sting out of his error by blasting a home run, his 15th, into the left field bleachers, with Grossman on base to give Oakland the lead, 2-0.
One time A’s fan favorite Josh Reddick narrowed the gap with a one out solo homer to right off an 84 mph Fiers change up in the seventh. After a Chirinos ground out to third and a walk to White, Fiers gave way to Lou Trivino, who had a few demons from Wednesday’s debacle to exorcise. He didn’t manage to do that tonight. Kemp hit a double off the left field wall to drive in Mykes Straw, running for White, with the game-tying tally.
Laureano greeted Héctor Rondón, who relieved Peacock to start the bottom of the seventh, with a double down the left field line. Phegley moved him up with a sacrifice bunt. It looked as if Semien would bring in the speedy Laureano with a smash to the left side of the infield, but Jack Mayfield, who had just come into the game at short, made a diving catch of it and threw Semien out at first while Laureano had to remain at third. Grossman grounded out to second to end the threat.
Trivino’s troubles suddenly worsened as soon as the eighth inning began. Derek Fisher hit Trivino’s first pitch over the centerfield fence for his first round tripper of the year, and, all of a sudden, the A’s were behind, 3-2.
The pitching mound merry-go-round began to spin after Trivino put down the Astros in what was left of the eighth with a fly out and a ground out, interspersed by an infield single by Yuri Guerriel. Ryan Pressly relieved Rondón to open the eighth and put the A’s down 1, 2, 3. Joakim Soria relieved Trivino to open the ninth. He shut Houston down on a single, a called strike three, and a nifty double play, Olson unassisted to Semien to Olson. Then, Roberto Osuna came in to try to close out the win for the Astros.
He did. One. Two. Three. On 10 pitches.
The win went to Rondón, his third a against one loss. Osuna was credited with his 16th save. Trivino got the loss, which brought him to 2-2 with three blown saves.
Tomorrow night will see Brett Anderson (6-3, 3.86 ERA) duel against Justin Verlander (8-2, 2.38 ERA) in a battle of veterans. Game time will be 7:07 pm.