Giants take down Astros 5-3 in Bryant’s debut

The newest San Francisco Giant Kris Bryant is all smiles in the Giants dugout after hitting a third inning home run against the Houston Astros on Sun Aug 1, 2021 at Oracle Park in San Francisco (AP News photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN FRANCISCO–Kris Bryant was jokingly asked before the game if he felt pressure to hit a home run in his debut game for his new team since two of his former Chicago Cubs teammates had done the day before for their respective new clubs.

If he did, you wouldn’t have known as the newly acquired Giant, hit a solo home run in his second at bat to help The San Francisco Giants beat the Houston Astros 5-3 in the rubber match of the three-game series on Sunday afternoon at Oracle Park.

San Francisco took two out of three from Houston and went 5-4 on its nine-game homestand, 4-2 in the last six games. They remained three games ahead of Los Angeles and six and a half games up on San Diego in the National League West. Houston has lost two in a row and lead Oakland by four and half games in the American League West.

“I think it says we’re steady”, Giants manager Gabe Kapler said after his team won the past two series against contending teams. “We’re not going to let one day, spill into the next. But I also think the confidence is growing. And I think we’ve played well against some of the best teams in baseball.”

Bryant finished the game going 1-4 with the home run and RBI. He also made an errant throw to first base on a Martin Maldonado ground ball to third base in the fifth inning.

Bryant, who started at third base for Kapler, ignited the two-out three-run third inning for San Francisco with his 19th home run of the season. Brandon Crawford singled in Mike Yaztrzemski to tie the game at 2-2.

“I feel giddy”, said Bryant after his first game with his new team. “It felt like Christmas morning honestly. It’s really cool to be part of it and experience it first hand”

Darin Ruff who went 3-4 with a HR and three RBI, just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, ended up upstaging his new teammate. His RBI single in the third inning gave the Giants the lead they wouldn’t relinquish. His two-run homer in the fifth inning gave San Francisco all the runs they would need on the sunny afternoon.

“Today in particular, I focused on not missing a fastball (thrown at me). Luckily, I was on time and ran into some good pitches, you know squaring them up pretty well. Overall for the series I don’t know maybe a little bit more aggressive. You gotta find some holes out there and get lucky sometimes. I fell into a good rhythm,” Ruff said.

Ruff feasted on Astros pitching over the weekend going 6-13 (.461) with a home run, 5 RBI and four runs scored.

Logan Webb started the series finale for San Francisco (66-39). He pitch a strong 6 plus innings giving up only two earned runs on seven hits while striking out three and walking one batter. Webb settled down after the first inning when he gave up a two-run home run to Yuli Gurriel.

“We wanted to stay with the same game plan”, said Webb. “Keep attacking those guys. They got some hits but (when) you keep them to singles, I’ll take that all day.”

Astros starter Luis Garcia went four and two-thirds innings giving up five earned runs on eight hits, striking out seven and walking two batters.

Houston (64-42) scored a run in the eighth inning off of Tyler Rogers when Kyle Tucker hit into a 1-6-3 double play.

Jake McGee came in and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his 23rd save of the season.

GAME NOTES: The Giants left six runners on base. Houston stranded seven.

To make room for Bryant on the 26-man roster, the Giants optioned infielder Jason Vosler down to Triple-A Sacramento.

Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo became the first trio in MLB history to all homer in the debuts for their new teams.

The Giants home record of 35-17 is the best in MLB and their day game record is now 26-14 (4th best in MLB).

UP NEXT: The Giants began a seven-game road trip when the travel out Arizona to begin a four-games series with the Diamondback on Monday 8/2 at 6:40pm at Chase Field.

Altuve’s big night paces Astros in 9-6 win over Giants

Houston Astros Jose Altuve swings for the fences here he belts a fifth inning home run against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Fri Jul 30, 2021 (AP News photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN FRANCISCO—It’s not everyday that the opening game of a series between the two best teams in baseball plays second fiddle. But then again, the San Francisco Giants haven’t been a buyer at MLB’s Trading Deadline in five years.

Minutes before the end of the deadline, Farhan Zaidi and his management team pulled off a trade bringing Chicago Cubs All-Star left fielder Kris Bryant to the the team by the bay for prospects outfielder Alexander Canario and right handed pitcher Caleb Kilian.

As far as the game went, Jose Altuve powered the Houston Astros with hit two home runs, including a grand slam in the sixth inning, to complete a 3-6 night with five RBI in a 9-6 victory on Friday evening at Oracle Park.

“Yeah there’s no question that was the turning point in the game,” said Giants manager Gabe Kapler on Altuve’s grand slam. “A major moment. We weren’t able to recover from it.”

The game was without Astros manager, and former Bay Area icon, Dusty Baker as he served a one-game suspension, due to the three game suspension to Brooks Raley for intentionally hitting Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford with a pitch on Monday. Bench coach Joe Espada was the interim manager. 

Kevin Gausman started for the Giants and suffered a shaky first inning. The Astros sent eight man to plate and had three singles and two walks. However Gausman settled down and struck out the final two batters as he escaped being down only 2-0 after throwing 43 pitches.

“Today was a really high pitch count in the first inning. Interesting at the end of that first inning he still had plenty of life on his (fast)ball. So he was able to get his pitch count under control and get through a few additional innings for us”, Kapler said on Gausman’s outing.

Gausman ran out of gas in the fifth inning. He gave up a lead off homer to Jose Altuve, then a single to Michael Brantley before striking out Yuli Gurriel to end his night. Gausman finished the game pitching 4 and one-third innings giving up three earned runs on six hits while striking out nine Astros and two walks.

“I feel like I made the adjustment I needed to make”, said Gausman. “It allowed me to throw my fast ball up in the zone a lot more. That’s a big pitch for me. So I had to kind of remind myself I was just getting a little to quick to home plate.”

Framber Valdez had the Giants batters stymied by his curve ball on the night. He finished the game pitching five innings giving up two earned runs on four hits while striking out six and issued three walks on 89 pitches.

Down 7-3 in the seventh inning, the Giants rallied for two runs with an RBI sacrifice fly from William Flores and an RBI single from Brandon Crawford. Kendall Graveman came in relief of Ryne Stanek to put out the fire by striking out Donovan Solano to end the threat.

Houston tacked on single runs in the eighth and ninth inning on a RBI double Carlos Correa and a solo home run by Aledyms Diaz.

Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth inning, giving up one run on on three hits.

Each team stranded 10 base runners in the game.

GAME NOTES: The Giants also brought back veteran left hand reliever Tony Watson in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Giants sent pitchers Sam Selman, Ivan Armsttrong and Jose Marte to the Angels.

Houston acquired pitcher Phil Maton and minor league catcher Yainer Diaz from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for outfielder Myles Straw.

UP NEXT: Game 2 of the Giants-Astros series is on Saturday 7/31 at 1:05pm at Oracle Park. Alex Wood faces off against Zach Greinke.

San Francisco Giants podcast with Marko Ukalovic: Giants host old skipper Dusty and former NL team Houston Astros tonight in SF

Houston Astros and manager Dusty Baker are headed to Oracle Park in San Francisco to open a three game series against the San Francisco Giants on Fri Jul 30, 2021 (AP News photo)

On the Giants podcast with Marko:

#1 Marko, I know you take every chance you could take to see and talk with former San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker who is over in the American League manager with the first place Houston Astros.

#2 The Astros get booed wherever they go but still for Giants fans there has to be a special place in their hearts for Dusty who was a former player, coach and manager that led this team to the 2002 World Series and had so many great memories in the Bay Area.

#3 Marko taking a look at this past week’s Dodgers series at Oracle Park the Giants taking the rubber game on Thursday 5-0 after getting landslided on Wednesday night 8-0 it had to be an important come back for the club.

#4 Talk about Brandon Crawford in Thursday’s game coming off the oblique strain injury he didn’t look like he missed a step opening up in the first inning with a two run double against Dodger starter David Price.

#5 The Astros will be starting Framber Valdez (6-2 ERA 2.97) going up against Giant starter Kevin Gausman (9-4 ERA 2.21) tell us how you see this match up to open up the three game series tonight at Oracle.

Marko Ukalovic filled in for Michael who does the Giants podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

A’s Manaea strong performance downs M’s 4-1 at T Mobile

Oakland A’s starter Sean Manaea throws against the Seattle Mariner line up at T Mobile Field in Seattle on Thu Jul 22, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jerry Feitelberg

The A’s won their third game in a row behind Sean Manaea’s outstanding performance Thursday night in Seattle. Manaea broke a four-game personal losing streak as he held the Mariners to one run and three hits in seven innings of work. Manaea improved to 7-6 for the season. Sergio Romo set the M’s down in order in the eighth, and Lou Trivino closed out the ninth for his sixteenth save.

The Mariners’ starter, Chris Flexen, held the A’s to just one hit and no runs in the game’s first four innings. The A’s drew first blood in the top of the fifth. With two outs, A’s shortstop Elvis Andrus singled to start the rally. With Mark Canha at the plate, Andrus stole second. He went to third on Canha’s infield single. The next hitter, Ramon Laureano, lined a shot off Flexen’s leg to drive in Andrus with the A’s first run. 

The A’s added another run in the top of the sixth. With one out, Mitch Moreland doubled. A’s catcher, Sean Murphy, followed with a double to left to drive in Moreland. The A’s led 2-0 midway through the sixth. 

In the bottom of the seventh, Seattle’s catcher, Tom Murphy, led off the inning with a solo blast to left. Manaea settled down and retired the next three batters.

In the top of the eighth, the A’s put two more runs on the board. Singles by Matt Chapman and Seth Brown put men on at first and second with no out. Elvis Andrus executed a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Mark Canha walked to load the bases.

Ramon Laureano hit a soft line drive over the Mariners’ shortstop J.P. Crawford to drive in Chapman. Matt Olson drove in Brown with a sacrifice fly to right field. The A’s led 4-1. Sergio Romo was now pitching for Oakland. As mentioned above, he set the M’s down in order. Lou Trivino got the last three out of the game to earn his 16th save of the year. The A’s win 4-1.

Game Notes: With the win, the A’s are now 56-42 for the year. They trail the Houston Astros by two and 1/2 games in the race for the AL West crown. The Mariners fall to 51-46.

The A’s line was four runs, eleven hits, and no errors. The M’s stats were one run, four hits, and no errors.

Sean Manaea struck out 13 Mariner hitters for a new career-high. Mark Canha hat a single, double, and two walks as he reached base four times. Ramon Laureano and Sean Murphy each had two hits Thursday night.

The A’s will send Frankie Montas to the hill Friday night. The Mariners will counter with lefty Yusei Kikuchi. The game will start at 7:10 pm.

Oakland A’s podcast with Jeremiah Salmonson: Montas’ pitching sets tone for A’s going into Texas; Irvin gets the start for A’s against Rangers tonight

Oakland A’s starter Cole Irvin will start for the A’s in Texas against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on Fri Jul 9, 2021 (file photo from Athletics Nation)

On the A’s podcast with Jeremiah:

#1 Oakland A’s pitcher Frankie Montas pitched 6.2 innings five hits and one run quite a line against one of the best hitting line ups in the American League the Houston Astros.

#2 Jeremiah, Montas picked up his seventh win of the season against seven loses this one was a gem he really had good command and it set the tone for the team coming out of a tough place like Houston.

#3 Jeremiah, let’s talk about Montas’ strike outs he struck out ten hitters and when you strike out ten Astro hitters he got the right signals and had his velocity working.

#4 Jeremiah, real quickly on the new ball park issue side of things it was reported that the Oakland City Council was presented the entire Howard Terminal ballpark package one of the sticking points of the package was when it came to infrastructure of the tune of a $12 billion neighborhood redo the city council didn’t see any affordable housing in the A’s new residential or condos could that be a sticking point for city council vote or will David Kaval and the A’s work something out with that regard.

#5 Starting pitchers for Friday night’s game in Texas for the A’s Cole Irvin (6-7 ERA 3.56) for the Rangers Jordan Lyles (4-5 ERA 4.98) a 5:05 pm (PDT) first pitch

Join Jeremiah for the A’s podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Frankie Montas’ superb outing propels A’s to win over Astros 2-1

Oakland A’s starter Frankie Montas delivers against the Houston Astros in the first inning of Thu Jul 8, 2021 game at Minute Maid Field (AP News photo)

By Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s (50-39) needed their starter to find a way to stop the powerful Houston Astros’ (54-34) offense. Houston had won the first two games of the three-game series and increased their leas to 5 and 1/2 games over the A’s. Had the Astros won, they would have increased their lead to six and 1/2 games.

A’s manager Bob Melvin handed the ball to Frankie Montas to expect that Montas would shut down the Astros’ attack. Montas responded with, perhaps, his best performance of the season. Montas went six and 2/3rds innings, allowing the Astros one run and five. He struck out ten and walked one, as he won his eighth game of the year, leading the A’s to a 2-1 win.

The A’s scored all the runs they would need in the first inning. With one out, Elvis Andrus doubled. Astros’ starter, Lance McCullers, Jr. uncorked a wild pitch to send Andrus to third. Matt Olson doubled to drive in Andrus with the A’s first run. Jed Lowrie singled to drive in Olson to give the A’s the lead 2-0.

Montas had all four of his pitches working. He painted the corners with his four-seam fastball. He had command of his slider, splitter, and changeup. He was moving the ball up and down in the zone. He threw 95 pitches, and 71 were strikes. He struck out the side in the first and second innings.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Astros finally put a run on the board. Montas recorded the first two outs. Astros’ right-fielder, Kyle Tucker, doubled to start the Astro rally. He went to third on a wild pitch. Astros’ centerfielder, Chas McCormick, followed with a double to drive in Tucker with Houston’s first run. A’s manager, Bob Melvin, brought in Yusmeiro Petit to pitch to Abraham Toro. Petite got Toro to ground out to end the inning. 

Lou Trivino pitched the eighth for Oakland. Trivino walked Jason Castro to start the frame. A’s fans got a little nervous as they know the cardinal sin for any reliever is to walk the first man he faced in the inning. Trivino now had the unenviable task of facing the Astros’ three best hitters. Trivino was not fazed at all.

He got Jose Altuve to hit into a fielder’s choice, Michale Brantley to fly out to right, and Carlos Correa hit a popup to Tony Kemp at second base. Bob Melvin had Jake Diekman pitch the ninth. Diekman gave up a single to Yordano Alvarez to start the bottom of the ninth.

He got the next hitter, Yuli Guriel, to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. He retired Kyle Tucker on a soft line to Tony Kemp to preserve to win for Oakland. The A’s win a very close game 2-1.

Game Notes and Stats- with the win, the A’s are 50-39 for the years and are 4 1/2 games back of the first-place Astros. Houston is now 54-34. The line for Oakland was two runs, eight hits, and no errors. Houston’s line was one run, six hits, and one error.

The A’s pitching did an excellent job of holding down the Houston offense. Houston has averaged 5.5 runs per game so far this season.

The A’s are 4-9 against Houston this year. In all four victories, A’s pitchers have held the Houston Offense to less than six runs. The Astros have scored six or more runs in eight of the nine wins against Oakland.

Ramon Laureano, Elvis Andrus, and Jed Lowrie each had two hits on Thursday. Frankie Montas improved to 8-7. Lou Trivino earned a hold, and Jake Diekman recorded his seventh save of the season.

The first four hitters in the Astro Lineup were one-for sixteen against the A’s. Yordano Alvarez’s single in the ninth was the only hit. Bob Melvin commented after the game about Montas’ performance. It applied to all four of the A’s pitchers:”Every pitch meant something.”

Injury update: Chad Pinder was placed on the 10-day IL. Pinder injured his right hamstring running to first base on the last play of Wednesday night’s game. After running across the base, he grabbed the back of his leg as he fell to the ground. The A’s do not know how much time Pinder will need to recover.

The time of Thursday’s game was 2:52. 29,243 fans did not see their Astros win.

The A’s are on their way to Arlington, Texas, to play a three-game series with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are 4-3 against the A’s this year. Hopefully, the momentum for Thursday’s win will continue for the A’s this weekend. After the series, the A’s are off until July 16th. They will resume play after the annual All-Star game break against the Cleveland Indians at the Coliseum.

The pitching matchups for the series will see lefty Cole Irvin go for Oakland Friday night. Texas will send Jordan Lyles to the hill. On Saturday, it will be James Kaprielian going against Mike Folynewicz. Folty has been tough on the A’s in the two games he has pitched for the Rangers. On Sunday, Chriss Bassitt will be on the mound for the A’s, and Texas will counter with lefty Kolb Allard.

Friday night’s game at Globe Life Stadium will begin at 5:05 pm.

Oakland A’s podcast with Jerry Feitelberg: Canha feeling better and Moreland will be out longer

The Matts at Bats Matt Olson (28) and Matt Chapman (right) jump for joy over after Olson hit a first inning home run against the Texas Rangers Tue Jun 29, 2021 at the Oakland Coliseum (AP file photo)

On the Oakland A’s podcast with Jerry F:

#1 Jerry, talk about how amazing it is at the thought that A’s outfielder Mark Canha could be back to work by this weekend for the Texas Rangers series.

#2 Jerry, the report is there is no structural damage on his left hip, Canha was on the Injured List and did have tendinitis. Canha has hurt that same hip before.

#3 A’s designated hitter Mitch Moreland is out for undisclosed reasons and is expected out until the All Star Break. It was reported that he is out for a no related baseball issue.

#4 Matt Olson will be taking his cuts at the All Star game in the home run derby Olson has 83 hits and 20 home runs and is hitting .283

#5 The Coliseum site is up for grabs with such groups as the African American Sports and Entertainment Group, Tripp Development, Dave Stewart and Lonnie Murray, the Renaissance Companies and the A’s. The Oakland City Council is waiting to see what happens with the A’s vote at Howard Terminal. If it’s a thumbs down for Howard Terminal the A’s will leave for Las Vegas. The other groups will bid on the property to develop. Talk has it that the WNBA and indoor arena football are interested in coming to the Coliseum Arena.

Join Jerry for the A’s podcasts Thursdays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Two Astro home runs sink A’s 4-3

Houston Astros Jose Altuve reaches down and up to hit a third inning three run home run against the Oakland A’s at Minute Maid Field on Wed Jul 7, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jerry Feitelberg

The Houston Astros (54-33) continued to torment the Oakland A’s (49-39) as they beat the Green and Gold 4-3. The Astros and A’s have met 12 times so far this season. The Astros have won nine. The storyline shows two teams going in different directions. The A’s have lost twelve of their last 18 games.

The Astros are 13-5. The A’s were in first place with a 2-game lead over Houston before things went south. They now trail Houston by five and 1.2 games. The A’s can get back on course with a win Thursday afternoon in Houston.

The A’s grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. A’s first baseman, Matt Olson, blasted a 398-foot blast into the seats in the right field with two out. It was Olson’s 21st big fly of the year.

A’s starter, Sean Manaea, retired the first six Astro hitters he faced. Things went sour in the bottom of the third. Astros’ third baseman reached on A’s third baseman Chad Pinder’s throwing error. Toro went to second on the error.

The next hitter, Myles Straw, singled, sending Toro to third. Manaea struck out Martin Maldonado for the first out. Unfortunately for Manaea, he had to face the ever-dangerous Jose Altuve. Altuve sent Manaea’s pitch off the wall in the back of the Crawford Boxes to propel Houston to a 3-1 lead. Michael Brantley followed with a single. Manaea then retired the next eleven Astro hitters.

Houston’s manager, Dusty Baker, did not allow his starter, Luis Garcia, to pitch the sixth inning. Garcia’s high pitch count was the reason he did not come out to start the sixth. Baker selected righty Christian Javier to face Oakland in the sixth.

A’s shortstop Elvis Andrus hit his second home run of the year with a blast into the left-field seats. Javier then walked Matt Olson. Ramon Laureano singled, Olson stopped at second. Jed Lowrie also singled to load the bases with no out.

With Sean Murphy hitting, Javier uncorked a wild pitch allowing Olson to score on the play. Laureano and Lowrie advanced to second and third. The next play turned out to be one of the key plays in the game. Murphy sent a ball left field that Michael Brantley caught.

A’s third base, Mark Kotsay, had Laureano tagged up and tried to score. Brantley’s throw home nailed Laureano to complete the double play. Stephen Piscotty struck out to end the inning. The good news was the A’s tied the game 3-3.

A’s manager Bob Melvin sent Manaea out to pitch the seventh. He retired Carlos Correa for the first out. The next hitter was right fielder Kyle Tucker. Tucker hit his 14th dinger of the year to put the Astros ahead 4-3.

Astros’ relievers, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly, each set the A’s down 1-2-3 in the eighth and ninth innings to preserve Houston’s 4-3 win.

Game Notes and Stats- With the loss, the A’s are 49-39 for the season. They trail the Astros by 5/12 games. Houston’s record is 54-33.
The A’s line was three runs, five hits, and two errors. Houston’s line was four runs, four hits, and two errors.

Sean Manaea absorbed the loss. His record is now 6-6 for the year. Manaea went six and 2/3rds innings. He allowed four runs, one of which was unearned, and four hits. Two of the hits were home runs. He struck out six and did not issue a walk.

Chad Pinder appeared to injure his right leg on the last play of the game. The extent of the injury is not known at the time of this report.

The A’s meet the Astros Thursday afternoon in Houston. The game will start at 10:30 pm Pacific Daylight time.

The game lasted two hours and fifty-nine minutes. Twenty-one thousand one hundred fifty people witnessed the Astros beat the A’s for the ninth time this season

Astros storm back to down A’s 9-6; Alvarez goes yard twice

The Houston Astros Yordan Alvarez who hit two home runs hits a three run homer in the fifth inning at Minute Maid Field in Houston on Tue Jul 6, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s (49-38) opened the three-game set with the Houston Astros (53-33) Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park. The A’s sent their ace, Chris Bassitt, to the mound hoping Bassitt could find a way to slow down the potent Astro offense.

It was not an easy task as the Astros lead the AL in runs, team batting average(.273), and OPS (.794). The Astros are fourth in the league with 109 homers. The Astros are patient hitters and get lots of walks. They don’t strike out much either.

The Astros’ Michael Brantley l is the best hitter in the AL with a .340 batting average. Yuli Guriel, hitting behind Brantley, entered the game with a .322 average. Bassitt did not find the way; the Astros came back from an early 6-2 deficit to win 9-6.

The A’s plated three runs in the top of the first. Oakland greeted Astros’ starter Framber Valdez with five hits to get off to a great start. The Astros answered with two in their half of the first. With one out, Bassitt walked Michael Brantley. He retired Guriel for the second out. He did not get by Yordano Alvarez. The big guy blasted his 15th of the year to make it 3-2.

The A’s put three more on the board in the second. Three hits and a throwing error by Astros’ catcher Martin Maldonado gave the A’s a 6-2 lead midway through the second inning.

Alvarez led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. Third baseman Abraham Toro singled, sending Alvarez to second. Myles Straw singled to drive in Alvarez with Houston’s third run. The A’s led 6-3 after four complete. Things went south for Bassitt in the bottom of the fifth.

Astros’ second baseman, Jose Altuve, doubled. Altuve went to third on a Guli Guriel single. Bassitt now had to face Alvarez again, Alvarez hit his second dinger of the night into the Crawford Boxes in left field to tie the game at 6-6. Alvarez had driven in five of the Astros’ six runs.

The Astros scored three more times in the sixth. Three singles and two put the runs on the board for Houston. The Astros had scored seven unanswered runs to lead 9-6.

The Astros bullpen held the A’s to three singles and no runs after the second inning. The Astros win 9-6.

Game Notes and stats- With the loss, the A’s are 49-38. They are now 4 and 1/2 games behind the Astros. The Astros improved to 53-33.

Elvis Andrus had a double, two singles, and an RBI to lead the Oakland offense. Ramon Laureano and Jed Lowrie each had two hits.

Yordano Alvarez was the hitting star for Houston. Alvarez had three hits, including two home runs. He had five RBIs. Abraham Toro and Myles Straw each had two hits.
The time of the game was three hours and sixteen minutes. Twenty-six thousand three hundred fifty-three fans watched their Astros win.

A’s manager will send Sean Manaea to the hill to pitch for Oakland. The big left is 6-5 with a 3.13 ERA. Astros’ manager Dusty Baker will counter with righty Luis Garcia. Garcia’s numbers are very similar to Manaea’s. Garcia is 6-5 with a 3.14 ERA.

The game will start at 5:10 pm.

Preview of the A’s series with the Houston Astros

Oakland A’s starter Chris Bassitt whose been on a role starts for the A’s on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Field in Houston (AP file photo)

By Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s are on their way to the state of Texas to face the Astros and Rangers. The three-game series with Houston begins on Tuesday at 5:05 pm from Minute Maid Park. The A’s then go to Arlington for three more before the annual All-Star Game.

The A’s are having a hard time winning baseball games these days. They have lost ten of the last sixteen played. They lost series to the Yankees, Giants, Rangers, and Red Sox The A’s fell to second place in the AL West, 3and 1/2 games behind Houston.

They lost two out of three to Boston last weekend. All three games were decided by one run. The A’ lost 3-2 in ten on Friday night, won 7-6 in 12 on Saturday and lost a heartbreaker 1-0 Sunday. The A’s have had their chances but have not been able to get hits when needed to get the runs needed to win on the board.

They have a chance to reverse things the next six days. It will not be easy when they face the Astros in Houston. The Astros are 7-3 against the A’s this year. The Rangers, in last place in the AL West, have not rolled over for Oakland. The Rangers split the four-game series with the A’s in Arlington took two out of three last week in Oakland.

On Tuesday, the A’s will send their ace, Chris Bassitt, to the mound. Bassitt is 9-2 with a 3.04 ERA. Lefty Framber Valdez will oppose him. Many A’s fans were furious that Bassitt was not picked to play in the All-Star game a week from tomorrow in Denver. Sean Manaea will pitch on Wednesday. His opponent will be Luis Garcia. Frankie Montas will go on Thursday. Lance McCullers, Jr. goes for Houston.

The A’s pitchers will have their hands full with the Houston lineup. Alex Bregman, Houston’s slugging third baseman, is on the 10-day IL and will not be available. Houston still has players that can do damage. Second baseman Jose Altuve, shortstop Carlos Correa, first baseman Yuli Guriel all are playing well. The Houston DH, Yordano Alvarez, is not an easy out. Michael Brantley is a hitting machine. The A’s cannot take Myles Straw or Kyle Tucker lightly.

The A’s are going to find a way to get their offense going. They miss their leadoff hitter, Mark Canha. Canha is on the 10-day IL with a hip injury. He may not be available until after the All-Star break. His presence in the lineup is missed. The A’s will need Matt Chapman, Ramon Laureano, Seth Brown, Stephen Piscotty, Elvis Andrus, and Matt Olson to come through with big hits.

Olson will be the A’s only player to participate in this year’s All-Star game. The A’s DH Mitch Moreland is also on the 10-day IL. There is speculation that the A’s will be active in the trade market before the June 30th trade deadline. There are rumors that they might be interested in acquiring Minnesota’s DH, Nelson Cruz. Another player of interest is the Rangers’ right fielder, Joey Gallo.

The Rangers are paying Gallo $6.2 million this season. Gallo has one more year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the 2022 season. He could play right field for the A’s or be used as a left-handed bat in the DH slot.

The A’s do not want to make the playoffs as a Wild Card. Major League Baseball has gone back to the format before the 2020 season. There will be three division champions and two wild cards. There will be a game-playoff between the two wild card teams. The A’s have not fared well in those games. They hosted the 2019 Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Rays. The outcome was a loss.

If the A’s are to gain ground against Houston, they have to take two out of three. They would cut the deficit to 2 and 1/2 games. A three-game sweep would leave them just 1/2 game behind. However, if the Astros sweep them, they will be six and 1/2 games behind. A’s manager Bob Melvin will have his troops ready. They know the importance of the next two series—the A’s need to make a statement this week. They will be able to enjoy the four-day break.