By Charlie O. Mallonee
When you have to play a four-game series with the team who owns the second-best record in Major League Baseball, your goal has to be to go for a 2-2 split. That most certainly is a success level. You might not have gained any positions, but you will not have lost any either.
On Wednesday night, the A’s beat the Astros 5-3 to take a 2-1 series lead in their four-game series with the mighty Houston Astros. Now, the Athletics can play with “reckless abandon” on Thursday night and try to win the series. Not only would that help them in their pursuit of the AL Wild Card Slot #1, but it would really put them inside the heads of the Astros, who could be their first-round opponents in AL Playoffs.
LHP Brett Anderson has a strong start
Anderson worked 5.0-innings allowing just two runs (both earned) off seven hits (one HR). He walked three and struck out four hitters. George Springer hit his 34th home run of the season off 2-2 pitch from Anderson. It traveled 433 feet over the center-field wall.
Anderson threw 86 pitches (54 strikes). He was also credited with the win, which raised his record to 12-9 for the year. Anderson faced 23 batters in his 5.0-innings on the mound.
An A’s reliever stepped into the spotlight
Jesus Luzardo made his long-awaited major league debut on Wednesday when he entered the game as a reliever for Anderson. Oakland had scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning to stake the rookie to a 5-2 lead.
Luzardo got off to a great start getting the first two hitters out, but then he gave up a home run to Martin Maldonado. He gathered himself and struck out Myles Straw for the third out of the inning.
Luzardo set the Astros down in order in the seventh and eighth innings.
The rookie LHP worked 3.0-innings giving up one run (earned) off one hit while walking none and striking out two Astros. He tossed 36 pitches (22 strikes).
Luzardo became the first player born in Peru to play in the major leagues.
Don’t forget the guy who got the save
Mr. Dependable — Liam Hendriks — recorded his 20th save of the season setting the Astros down in order including striking out two batters.
Focus on the A’s with the bat
- Marcus Semien had a 3-for-5 night with the bat scoring two runs and posting one RBI. One of his hits was his 28th home run of the season.
- Rookie Sean Murphy went 1-for-4 at the plate. He hit his fourth home run of the season in the sixth inning.
- Matt Olson had a 1-for-4 night hitting with a double (24) that drove in two runs.
AL Wild Card Race
The Tampa Bay Rays are still in Wild Card Slot #1 but by just 1/2 game over the A’s. The A’s own AL Wild Card Slot #2 but are just 1/2 game ahead of the Indians.
It really is a three-team race. The Red Sox are now 10.0-games out the Wild Card and have lost five games in a row. They are now playing for next year.
It will be a good pitching matchup in the season-series finale between the A’s and the Astros on Thursday night. The A’s will send RHP Homer Bailey (12-8, 4.87 ERA) to the mound to face possible Cy Young winner RHP Justin Verlander (18-5, 2.52 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM Bay Area time.