The Astros defeat the A’s, avoid the sweep.

by Jerry Feitelberg

AP photo: Houston Astros pitcher Doug Fister delivering pitch in the first inning puts a fist in the Oakland A’s hitting with a shutout on Wednesday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum

OAKLAND–The A’s were hoping to get a sweep against the Houston Astros Wednesday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s had Houston native Daniel Mengden on the mound looking for his second victory of the year. Houston’s Doug Fister, however, stopped the A’s cold as he went seven innings and allowed just four hits and he won his tenth game of the year beating the A’s 7-0. Mengden’s record is now 1-5. He gave up three runs and five hits and left the game after five innings. The A’s had no offense, no pitching, and no defense as they lost for fifty-third time this season.

The Astros struck first in the top of the first. With one out, Marwin Gonzalez, playing left field, singled.  The second baseman, Jose Altuve, batting .354 and leading the AL in hitting, followed with a single. Mengden walked Carlos Correa to load the bases. Luis Valbuena grounded into a fielder’s choice, and that allowed Gonzalez to score. Mengden retired Colby Rasmus to end the inning.

The Astros scored two more in the second. Mengden retired the first two hitters, but he could not retire any one of the next five hitters. The Astros rally consisted of a walk, double, walk, single and another walk that produced the two runs. The Astros lead 3-0 in the middle of the second.

The Astros put two more on the board in the eighth. Rookie lefty Patrick Schuster gave up a double and two walks to load the bases for the ‘Stros Jose Altuve. Altuve blooped a single that drove in the two runs for Houston. They lead 5-0 heading into the A’s half of the inning. Houston plated another two in the ninth. Schuster retired the first two batters but a single, triple and doubled produced the runs. Houston owns a commanding 7-0 lead with the A’s coming up in the bottom of the ninth. Houston reliever Chris Devinski retired the A’s in order to end the game.

Game notes- The A’s are 4-2 since the All-Star break and now fall to 7-9 in July. The A’s record is now 42-53.  Daniel Mengden is now winless in his last four starts.  Yonder Alonso and Ryon Healy both had their four-game hitting streaks snapped. Josh Reddick was 2-for-4 and has hit safely in his last three games. Stephen Vogt hit safely in his seventh straight game.

The Houston Astros are now 51-44 for the season and are 34-16 since May 23rd. Fister is 10-6 for the year and leads the Astros staff with the ten wins. Jose Altuve has reached base safely in 35 straight games, which is the longest streak by an Astro player since Jeff Bagwell had a 51-game streak from September 23rd, 1998 to July 31st,1999.

The Tampa Bay Rays arrive in Oakland for a four-game set with the A’s starting Thursday night. The A’s Sonny Gray (4-8,5.12) will pitch for the Green and Gold. Lefty Matt Moore will pitch for the Rays. Moore’s record is 5-7, and his ERA is 4.33. Game time will be 7:05 PM at the Oakland Coliseum.

Time of game on Wednesday was three hours and six minutes. 20,231 fans watched the A’s go down to defeat.

 

The A’s Rich Hill outduels the Astros’ Doug Fister, A’s win 3-1

by Jerry Feitelberg

AP photo: Oakland A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie misses a Houston Astros Luis Valbuena smash for a hit at Minute Maid Field in the second inning of Thursday night’s game

HOUSTON–The Oakland A’s beat the Houston Astros 3-1 Thursday night in Houston. The A’s new  ace Rich Hill outshined the Astros Doug Fister in an old-fashioned pitching duel. The Astros scored their only run of the game in the first inning. Leadoff hitter, George Springer, tripled to get things going for Houston. The next hitter, Marwin Gonzalez, grounded out driving in Springer with the ‘Stros first and only run of the game. From that point on, Hill was lights out. Hill pitched six innings, allowed just the one run and three hits. He walked two batters but struck out ten. He threw 103 pitches and since it was just his second start since coming off the DL, A’s manager Bob Melvin turned the game over to the bullpen and did they ever do the job. John Axford set the Astros down in order in the seventh. Ryan Dull pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth and Ryan Madson did the same in the ninth to close out the game for Oakland.

The Astros, as mentioned above, scored first in the very first inning. The A’s came back and scored two runs in the top of the second. Singles by Danny Valencia and Khris Davis was followed by a walk to Steven Vogt to load the bases with no out. Marcus Semien grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Valencia scored to tie the game, and Davis went to third. Yonder Alonso doubled to left-centerfield to drive in the A’s second run. The score remained at 2-1 until the top of the ninth. Fister went eight innings allowed just two runs and three hits. The Astros brought in lefty Tony Sipp to face the left-handed hitter, Josh Reddick. With the shift on, Reddick hit a rocket up the middle that was fielded by Carlos Correa. Correa straightened up to throw to first but his throw drew the first baseman off the bag, and Reddick was safe. Correa was charged with an error.With two right-handed hitters coming up, Houston brought in former Athletic, Pat Neshek to pitch. Neshek retired Valencia and Davis but walked Vogt and Semien to load the bases. The Astros employed the shift when Alonso came to the plate. The Second baseman, Jose Altuve was stationed in short right, and Correa was near the second base bag. Alonzo hit a blooper that could not be fielded by Neshek and Altuve was too far away to make the play. Reddick scored the insurance run, and Madson closed out the game. A’s win, the A’s win 3-1.

Game Notes- With the win, the A’s are now 2-6 in their last eight games. They play three more games with the Astros before stopping play for the All-Star game. Kendall Graveman, Daniel Mengden, and Sean Manaea will handle the pitching chores for Oakland. Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh and reigning Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel will pitch for Houston.

Yonder Alonso was the hitting star for Oakland as he had two of the four hits and he drove in two runs. Center fielder, Coco, Crisp was tossed out of the game in the fourth inning. Crisp took a low pitch that was below his knees. The ump called it a strike. Coco was a little miffed. The next pitch was also low. Coco swung and missed as he thought he would be called out on strikes if he took the pitch. As he was heading back to the dugout, Coco tossed the bat, and it nearly hit the umpire. He also threw his helmet to the ground. He was thumbed out immediately. Bob Melvin never got a chance to intercept Coco. Billy Burns replace Coco in center.

Rich Hill is now 9-3 for the year, and the A’s improve to 37-49. The Astros’ Doug Fister falls tp 8-6 and they are now 46-40 for 2016. Ryan Madson picked up his seventeenth save. Game Two of the Series will be Friday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston at 5:10 pm PT.

Time of game was two hours and thirty-two minutes and 20,933 Houstonian were on hnd to watch the A’s win.

Too many men left on base – A’s lose 2-1

MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics
Photo Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Oakland – There is no such thing as a pretty loss. By their very nature, all losses all are ugly. But, some losses are “uglier” than others.

The Oakland Athletics had one of those very ugly losses on Sunday afternoon as they dropped a one-run game to the Houston Astros 2-1 in the series finale. The A’s did take the series two games to one.

It looked like it was going to be a high scoring, power game the way things began. All-star second baseman Jose Altuve took a one-one curveball over the left-center field fence for a home run to lead off the game for the Astros. Since the ball carries very well in the Coliseum during the day, everyone settled in for a “slug fest” that never happened. Instead, a pitching duel broke out in Oakland.

When the smoked cleared, the day belonged to the Houston Astros.

On the hill

LHP Rich Hill (3-3, 2.53) started the game for Oakland. After giving up the home run to Altuve, he settled down and got himself out of the first inning.

Hill set the side down in order in the second inning but struggled with the Astros in the third.

Houston managed to load the bases and Colby Rasmus hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field that allowed catcher Jason Castro to score from third. The Astros took a 2-0 lead and their scoring was over for the day.

Hill pitched 6.0 innings giving up just two hits (one home run) and allowing just two runs (both earned). He walked four and struck out four batters. Hill threw 106 pitches (61 strikes). It was the type of performance that would result in a win on many days.

The A’s bullpen did their job on Sunday. Liam Hendriks, Fernando Rodriquez and Mark Rzepczynski worked a combined 3.0 innings giving up no hits and no runs.

Hill was charged with the loss.

Veteran RHP Doug Fister (2-3, 4.60) started the game for the Astros. Fister was not overpowering or mystifying. He simply pitched to contact and the A’s kept hitting ground balls right at the defense.

Fister did allow the A’s to get seven hits but he kept them from being able to string them together until the seventh inning when Oakland would score its only run.

Fister pitched 6.2 innings giving up seven hits and one run (earned). He walked just one batter and struck out five. He threw 95 pitches (66 strikes).

The Houston relief corps worked 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.

In the batter’s box

In the batter’s box is where it was ugly for the A’s today. They were facing a starting pitcher who came into the game with a 5.56 ERA. As a team, you have to take advantage of that situation. An ERA that high screams of a pitcher who is struggling. As Don Henley says, “You kick ‘em when they’re down.”

Oakland had a pitching performance from their starter and relievers that was worthy of a victory. A win was not achieved for one simple reason – men left on base.

The A’s left eight men on base in the game. Even more disturbing was the fact they were just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. That is an ugly stat that make this an ugly loss.

The Astros struggled as well. They picked up seven base-on-balls in game and were unable to really capitalize on them. Houston left seven men on base and was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

On offense in general, this was a very strange game.

Defense

Just a note on defense. The Astros employed the defensive shift more than any team I have seen use it before in a game. They seem willing to play the percentage game and take their lumps if the opposition is able to beat them at their game.

The A’s were able to beat the shift several on several occasions but the Astros were successful using the defensive ploy. We will do some statistical follow up to see how successful the defensive scheme is over the long haul.

Up next

The Athletics open a 3-game home series with the Seattle Mariners on Monday night. Kendall Graveman will take the mound for the A’s facing the Mariners Nathan Karns.

The Astros return home to begin a 3-game series with the Twins.