By Morris Phillips
On Sunday, the A’s didn’t throw up, they threw their hands up.
The visitors’ weekend visit to Houston highlighted how competitive they’ve been with the division leaders in splitting the first 12 meetings. That thin veneer of big league equality got wiped out at Minute Maid Park as the Astros completed a three-game sweep on Sunday, winning 6-3.
Cristian Javier had gone since July 1 without a win, recording an 0-5 record over six starts. His issue–including a loss to the A’s in Oakland on July 27–was allowing walks (12) and home runs (8) in numbers too inflated to give himself a chance to win. That wasn’t the case on Sunday however. Javier allowed one hit, no runs and three walks that alone didn’t harm him.
Consequently, the A’s had to wait their turn… the one that materialized after manager Dusty Baker lifted his starter after six innings.
“Once he came out of the game, we had some good at-bats and put some hits together and gave (ourselves) a chance,” manager Mark Kotsay said of the A’s offense.
The A’s are challenged offensively, everyone with a bean counter knows that. But they’re also battlers and gamers, a testament to the atmosphere Kotsay has instilled in his clubhouse. So given an opportunity to rally, they did, it just came too little, too late to interrupt their eighth, consecutive loss.
Nick Allen homered in the eighth, and Noah Bride contributed an RBI groundout in the ninth in front of Tony Kemp’s run-scoring single that cut a 6-0 deficit to 6-3. Reliever Rafael Montero’s task was to finish the game, and give closer Ryan Pressly a day off, but that plan failed when he walked Cal Stevenson, forcing Baker to summon Pressly.
With two on and one out, and the A’s trailing 6-2, Pressly allowed Kemp’s RBI single but retired Vimael Machin to end the game, picking up his 22nd save.
Cole Irvin’s been fantastic as the top starter for a team on pace to lose 100 games that doesn’t hit much, but he’s shown wear in his last three starts, culminating on Sunday. Irvin’s lost all three, and allowed a home run in each. Besides Bregman’s blast, Jose Altuve’s two-run double stung the most, leaving Irvin in a 4-0 hole after two innings.
“Sometimes you tip your cap, a combination of just some good hitting and maybe some bad luck with placement of the balls,” Kotsay said of Irvin’s outing.
On Saturday, Skye Bolt went viral with his upset stomach and the resulting projectile celebration. Amazingly, he stayed in the game. On Sunday, a Ramon Laureano swing caused an ache, and the outfielder did depart in the fourth inning with soreness in his ribcage area. Both are day-to-day and any negative change would require a roster move to address a shortage of outfielders.
The A’s travel to North Texas and will meet the struggling Rangers on Monday. James Kaprelian will start opposed by the Rangers’ Glenn Otto. Texas has lost 14 of 22 since the All-Star break.