A’s beat the Yanks 5-2 Saturday for third consecutive win

The 2:20 Wrap 

by Charlie O. Mallonee

As Butch Cassidy asked the Sundance Kid in that now timeless movie as they were being pursued by a posse who would not give up, “Who are these guys?” Who are these guys indeed? The Oakland Athletics have come home and looked like an entirely different team against the powerful New York Yankees.

The A’s have won the series

The 5-2 win on Saturday guarantees the Athletics will win the four-game series. In a four-game series you pray for split. You fear a 3-1 loss. Your worst nightmare is being swept.

On Father’s Day Sunday, the A’s will have the opportunity to sweep the Yankees in this four-game series. Oakland leads the season series 4-2.

The Athletics are 20-12 versus the Yankees over the last five years. That is the best record against the “Bronx Bombers” by an American League team over that period of time.

Jesse Hahn picked up the win but struggled early on

MLB: New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics
Jesse Hahn worked hard for the win on Saturday Photo Neville E Guard USA Today Sports

Jesse Hahn got the start for the A’s and it looked like it was going to be a very short outing. He threw 31 pitches in the first inning while walking two New York hitters. He worked out of that jam and managed to work 5.0-innings in the game.

Hahn gave up two runs (both earned) on three hits. He struck out six and walked three. Hahn threw 105 pitches (69 strikes). His record improves to 3-4 with a 3.56 ERA.

Liam Hendriks, Josh Smith and Ryan Madson each worked an inning of scoreless relief.

Sean Doolittle came on in the ninth to earn his second save of the season.

Santiago Casilla was not going to pitch on Saturday but he was hit in the left shoulder by a foul ball while standing in the dugout. X-rays proved negative so he will be fine.

Ryon Healy had a monster day

Healy hit two round-trippers on Saturday — one in the first inning and one in the third inning. He now has 17 home runs for the season.

This was is third multi-home run game. All three have come in this month of June.

Healy finished the game going 3-for-4 with two home runs, a double, two runs and two RBI. His batting average currently stands at .288.

Matt Joyce also had a big game

Joyce led the game off for Oakland by hitting the first pitch from Tanaka over the right field wall for his eighth home run of the year. Joyce came to the plate five times — hit a home run, a double, a single and walked twice.

He also raised his batting average 13 points from .211 to .224.

Rookie Matt Chapman continues to be hot

Chapman who joined the A’s from Triple-A on Thursday had a 2-for-4 day. He hit a double, a single and scored a run. Chapman also had the opportunity to show off his speed on the base path and it is quite impressive.

His batting average is now at .273.

They all stood but the Judge did not rule

MLB: New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics
Aaron Judge went hitless for the fourth time this month Photo Neville E Guard USA Today Sports

The Yankees young superstar — Aaron Judge — caused a stir in the big crowd every time he came to the plate. Fans were hoping to him display the power that has allowed him to record 23 home runs so far this year.

Judge walked in the first inning and was stranded at first base. He then struck out swinging twice and went down on strikes looking in his final at bat in the eighth inning. Yes fans — he is human.

Tanaka had a strange day on the mound for New York

NYY Tanaka
Tanaka had a rough start taking the loss for the Yankees Photo Neville E Guard USA Today Sports

Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 6.34) started the game for the Yankees. The right-hander has been struggling recently and Saturday was no exception.

He worked just 4.0-innings giving up all five runs (all earned) on eight hits. Three of those hits were home runs — all solo shots. Tanaka walked one and struck out 10. He had a double-digit strike out game and took the loss. That is a rough start.

Domingo German entered the game in the fifth inning to relieve Tanaka. He pitched four scoreless innings giving up just four hits, walking three and striking out six. German earned himself some more pitching time with his performance on Saturday.

Where the teams stand after the game


The A’s are 30-38 on the season and have won three consecutive games. They are 4-6 in their last 10 games. The A’s are in last-place in the American League West 15-games behind division leading Houston. They are 2-games behind the fourth-place Mariners.


The Yankees are still in first-place in the AL East with a record of 38-28 and will probably stay there as Boston is losing as this story is being written. They started the day with just a one-half game lead over the Red Sox.

New York has now lost five games in a row and are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

Up next

The final game of the four-game series will get underway at 1:05 p.m. PDT on Father’s Day Sunday on Rickey Henderson Field. The Yankees will send Triple-A call-up RHP Luis Cessa (0-0, 5.40) to mound for the series finale. The A’s will counter with RHP Jharel Cotton (3-7, 5.52).

A’s win in a walk off beating the Tigers 6-5

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Here’s the 2:20 Wrap from the Coliseum on the A’s big win

A’s manager Bob Melvin was very happy to talk about the win after the game

Here are some Adam Rosales moments from the game


Keuchel caps flawless April with a dominating performance against the A’s


By Morris Phillips

The Astros’ Dallas Keuchel, quite simply, is the best starting pitcher in the AL West.  Manager Bob Melvin and the A’s are well aware of this not-so-new development, didn’t need any reminders, but they got one anyway on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.

Keuchel mowed down the A’s–he retired 10 consecutive batters, and 13 of 14 at one point–in the Astros’ 7-2 win in the series finale.  The 29-year old righthander improved to 5-0 in April, validation that Keuchel has made impressions on a number of teams, not just the A’s.

“He’s got four pitches, and you just try to grind on him a little bit and stay close to him,” Melvin said of Keuchel.  “Hopefully you can get him out of the game.”

The A’s did manage to get the Astro’s ace out of the ballgame, but manager A.J. Hinch’s hand wasn’t forced until their were two outs in the eighth inning and Houston held a 4-0 lead.  Keuchel had thrown 99 pitches at that point, allowing a two-out base hit to Adam Rosales, his final batter.

It was the fifth consecutive start in which Keuchel has registered a quality start and thrown at least seven innings. As a comparison, he was just 3-0 in April 2015, the beginning of his Cy Young Award-winning season.

“That’s probably the best command I have had in awhile,” Keuchel said. “I’m going to continue to attack the zone and get some early contact and let the defense work.”

The A’s dropped two of the three games in the series, but managed to end a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 win on Saturday night. The Astros solidified their lead in the division, capping April with a 16th win, only the third time in the history of their franchise that they’ve won 16 times in the season’s opening month.

The A’s have Monday off, before resuming their road trip in Minnesota on Tuesday.  Sonny Gray is expected to come off the disabled list and make his season debut in that one.




Astros vs Athletics Sunday finale postponed due to rain – looking ahead to the Rangers

By Charlie O. Mallonee


OAKLAND–The third and final game of the series between the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics that was scheduled to begin at 1:05 pm on Sunday has been postponed due inclement weather. A quick check of the records appear to make this the first postponement in Oakland since April 4, 2014 when a Mariners – A’s game had to be canceled due to a wet infield. The tarp was not put on the infield the night before and a rainstorm drenched the field.

In some ways, this may be a relief for the Athletics. The Astros mastery of the A’s continued on Saturday as they overcame a strong pitching performance by Sean Manaea that included 5-plus no-hit innings to comeback and win the game 10-6.

Houston is now 2-0 versus the Athletics in 2017 and have won nine consecutive games  from the A’s dating back to last season.

The make up date has not been announced. The Astros next visit to Oakland is June 19-22 for a four-game series. It is highly unlikely that it would be turned into a five-game series due to pitching rotations. That would make the three-game series scheduled for September 8-10 the best candidate for a day-night doubleheader. Oakland has an off day on September 7 and a travel day on the 11th.

The A’s and Astros in the standings

A's elephant logoAstros primary logo





The Athletics started the day in third place in the American League West with a record of 5-7. They are three games back of the Astros. Oakland is 4-6 in their last 10 games and have lost three games in a row.

The Astros currently lead the AL West with eight wins and four losses. That is the best record in the American League. Houston is 6-4 in their last 10 games and have won four consecutive games.

Up next

The Athletics are scheduled to begin a three-game series with the Texas Rangers on Monday night in Oakland. The A’s are 1-2 versus the Rangers so far this season.

A’s manager Bob Melvin has announced that the plan is to push the pitching rotation back a game so the probables will be as follows:

Mon 4/17 vs TEX   RHP Jharel Cotton (1-1, 3.97) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (1-0, 6.75) 7:05

Tue 4/18 vs TEX    RHP Andrew Triggs (2-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (1-1, 2.33) 7:05

Wed 4/19 vs TEX RHP Jesse Hahn (0-1, 3.75) vs. LHP Martin Perez (1-1, 2.20) 12:35

Roster moves for the Athletics

Chad Pinder

Shortstop Marcus Semien has been placed on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to Saturday due to a right wrist contusion. Semien is scheduled to have more testing on the wrist performed on Monday.

Infielder Chad Pinder has been recalled by the A’s from Triple-A Nashville to take Semien’s place on the roster.

Pinder was batting .324 for the Sounds with one RBI in nine games. He had played six games at second base and three games at shortstop for Nashville. Pinder made his Major League debut with the A’s last season batting .235 with four RBI in 22 games.

Oakland A’s Saturday game wrap: Sale too much for A’s hitters, Sox win 6-2


By Charlie O. Mallonee

Chris Sale was the first pitcher to win 14 games in the major leagues. It took him six games and 49 days to book his 15th win of the season. Win number 15 came on Saturday night in Chicago against the Oakland Athletics by the score of 6-2.

Sale pitched eight innings of scoreless baseball and gave way to his bullpen to close out the game in the top of ninth inning. The A’s seized on the opportunity to face someone else other than Sale and had the tying run on deck when Chad Pinder flied out to deep center field just three feet from the fence with two men on base for the final out of the game.

The Oakland loss ties the series at one game apiece with the rubber game of the match to be played on Sunday afternoon.

On the Bump

Left-handed starting pitcher Chris Sale (15-6) was the story of the night for the White Sox. The 6-foot-6 Sale came out and took control of the game from the beginning. He gave up no runs on just three hits. Sale faced 29 hitters and walked three while striking out eight. Sale wanted the win so badly he threw 120 pitches (74 strikes) in pursuit of the victory.

Nate Jones came on in the top of the ninth inning to close the game out for Sale and proved to be no mystery for A’s hitters. Jones gave up two runs (earned) on three hits and managed to get only one out. He was responsible two runners on base when he left the game.

Closer David Robertson had to enter the game for Chicago. He managed to get Yonder Alonso to strike out and Chad Pinder to fly out to deep center field for the final out of the game. Robertson picked up his 31st save of the season.

LHP Ross Detwiler started for the A’s and had one of those games that a pitcher would like to have erased from his memory. Detwiler (1-2) gave up six runs (earned) on 10 hits in just 4.0 innings of work. He walked one, struck out two and issued one home run. Detwiler threw 81 pitches (55 strikes) in four innings of work. He faced 23 batters. Bottom line, it just was not Detwiler’s night.

The A’s bullpen did all they could do to keep their team in the game. Daniel Coulombe, Chris Smith and John Axford combined to hold the White Sox scoreless over the 4.0 innings. In fact, the A’s relievers did not allow a baserunner in final four innings.

In the Batter’s Box

Every White Sox hitter except DH Justin Morneau had a hit in the game off Detwiler.

Jose Abreu led the way for Chicago going 2-for-3 on the night driving in two runs and scoring two runs. One of his hits was his 15th home run of the season and the other was his 28th double of the year. Abreu now has 66 RBI for the season.

Melky Cabrera went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Sox Saturday night. Cabrera also drove in two runs and scored a run. Cabrera hit his 29th double and recorded his 56th RBI in the game.

Danny Valencia had a 2-for-4 night for the A’s. Valencia started the Oakland mini-rally in the top of the ninth inning by hitting his 15th home run of the season into the seats in right center field.

Chad Pinder made his major league debut on Saturday night in Chicago. Pinder who was called up from Triple-A Nashville when Tyler Ladendorf went on the DL will play second base against left-handed starting pitchers. Pinder went 0-for-4 for the night but made the game interesting when he hit a David Robertson cut fastball that was up in the zone to deep center field with two runners on in the top of the ninth inning. Unfortunately, the ball was about three feet short of going over the wall and White Sox CF Adam Eaton was fast enough to haul it in for the final out of the game.

You’ve got to be kidding me

In the top of the ninth inning with one out and Ryon Healy on at first, Stephen Vogt hit a ground ball on the right side of the infield that was fielded by second baseman Carlos Sanchez. Sanchez tossed the ball to shortstop Tim Anderson. Anderson stepped on second base forcing out Healy and threw to first but Vogt was called safe.

A’s manager Bob Melvin challenged the call at second base. The video replay made it very clear that Anderson did not come within a foot of touching the bag. The call was overturned and Healy was called safe.

What happened next? Brett Eibner hit a line drive single to right that allowed Healy to score and moved Vogt up to second. Replay has changed the game.

Up Next

The plan was for Jesse Hahn to come off the disabled list and make the start versus the White Sox on Sunday. Those plans went on hold when Hahn did not feel right after throwing in the bullpen on Saturday. Hahn had felt good after pitching in Nashville on Tuesday but that was not the case on Saturday.

With Hahn on still on the DL, RHP Zach Neal – who had actually returned to the bullpen – will make another start for Oakland. Neal started last Sunday against the Mariners in Oakland. He worked 5.1 innings giving up five runs on eight hits. Neal has a record of 2-2 with a 5.19 ERA. He has a 7.98 ERA as starter and a 3.15 ERA as a reliever.

The White Sox will send LHP Jose Quintana to the hill on Sunday. Quintana in 9-9 on the year with a 2.85 ERA. This will be his third try at picking up win number 10.

Photo: Chicago Tribune

A’s Update: Pinder promoted; Doolittle and Hahn pitch in Nashville; Lowrie to have surgery; Chapman to Triple-A

New Athletics infielder Chad Pinder
New Athletics infielder Chad Pinder


by Charlie O. Mallonee

Doolittle throws nine pitches to get three outs

On Monday in Nashville, the A’s left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle made a rehab appearance for the Triple-A Sounds. It was his first competitive pitching opportunity since going on the disabled list on June 30 – retroactive to June 26 – with a left shoulder strain.

Doolittle pitched the eighth inning against the Reno Aces. He struck out the lead off batter. IIdemaro Vargas – the second man up – hit a double to left field. The third hitter – Ed Lucas – grounded out to first but Vargas advanced to third with two out. Doolitte then induced Zach Borenstein to ground out to second for the final out of the inning.

Doolittle worked one inning and gave up no runs on one hit. He threw nine pitches of which eight were strikes. Doolittle had one strikeout and two groundouts to retire the side.

The plan is for Doolittle to pitch at least once more in Nashville before rejoining the A’s. The target is for him to come off the disabled list and be available for the Cleveland series that begins next Monday night in Oakland.

Jesse Hahn performs well in rehab start

A’s right-handed starting pitcher Jesse Hahn made a rehab start in Nashville on Tuesday. It was his first game experience since going on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain on August 5.

Hahn set the tone of the night by sitting the Tacoma Rainiers down in order in the top of the first inning. In the second inning, Hahn faced seven batters and gave up a run. He settled down in the third inning getting three consecutive outs after allowing a lead-off walk. In his fourth and final inning, Hahn sat the side down in order once again.

Hahn threw 79 pitches in his four innings of work. Hahn was most likely on target to throw approximately 80 pitches. Of his 79 pitches, 40 were strikes. He faced 17 batters in his four innings of work. Hahn was able to get five of those batters to groundout and one to flyout.

The plan for Hahn -assuming he feels well after resting up from the start – is to travel to Chicago and meet up with the A’s. He can come off the disabled list on August 21, so Hahn could start the final game of the series with the White Sox in Chicago.

The season is over for Jed Lowrie

Infielder Jed Lowrie and the Athletics have decided that he should go ahead with surgery to remove a bunion from his big toe on the left foot. Lowrie had tried to play through the injury but finally had to be shutdown in early August.

According to reports, Lowrie received several different medical opinions before deciding on season-ending surgery. The recovery – rehabilitation time is approximately three months.

Lowrie played 87 games this season and hit .263  with 12 doubles, one triple, 2 home runs and 27 rbi. He is signed through 2017 so Lowrie will return to the team next season.

Lowrie is currently on the 15-day disabled list. He will probably be transferred to the 60-day disabled list which will allow the A’s to make some moves with the 40-man roster.

Chad Pinder moves up to the show

The Oakland Athletics have promoted Chad Pinder from Triple-A Nashville to the big club as they have placed infielder Tyler Ladendorf on the 15-day disabled list. Ladendorf has a sprained left wrist. Ladendorf was batting .083 with .102 on base percentage.

In order to make this move, the A’s transferred Jed Lowrie to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for Pinder. Lowrie is out for the rest of the season and will soon have surgery on his left big toe.

Pinder also gives the A’s some flexibility in the infield that they are going to need very soon. Starting shortstop Marcus Semien is about to go on maternity leave and the A’s will need someone to fill in at the number six spot. Pinder is a shortstop who was moved to that position last year from second base.

Pinder is a 6-foot-2, 195 pound, 24 year-old who was drafted 79th overall in 2013 by Oakland out of Virginia Tech. He has progressed each year to the next higher level of the farm system for the last four years.

Pinder has played in 107 games for Nashville this season and has a .258 batting average, a .310 on base percentage and .425 slugging percentage. He has hit 23 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs and has driven in 51 runs.

The Athletics have now used the disabled list a record-breaking 26 times this season eclipsing the old mark of 25 times set in 2008.

Matt Chapman gets promoted

Last week, third baseman Matt Chapman batted .318 with .424 on base percentage and an .864 slugging percentage going 7-for-22 in six games for the Midland RockHounds. Chapman hit three doubles, three home runs, drove in eight runs and scored five runs. He was named the Texas League Offensive Player of the Week.

As a reward for his great week, the A’s told Chapman to pack his bags and get out of town. The 2014 first-round draft pick has been promoted to Triple-A Nashville. That means Chapman has gone from the Rookie League to Triple-A in less than three years. That is very impressive indeed.

Many prognosticators are projecting that by next season Matt Chapman and Ryon Healy will be the corner infielders for the Oakland A’s. Who will be at third and who will be at first? That is still to be determined, but the A’s may have found a power hitting duo that will lead their youth movement for years to come.






Yankees beat A’s 5-4 to sweep the series

MLB: New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics relief pitcher John Axford Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND–The New York Yankees downed the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Sunday at the Coliseum in Oakland. It was a painful loss on three fronts.

First, the loss gave the Yankees a four-game sweep over the A’s in the series. The last time the Athletics were swept in a four-game series at home was in April of 1999. After sweeping the Texas Rangers in three games to begin the home stand, the A’s could have never imagined closing it out 0-4 against a team they swept in New York earlier in the season.

Second, the A’s are not being able to take advantage of their home field environment. Oakland’s record is now just 8-15 at home while they are 11-11 on the road. That is really quite extraordinary as most teams fare much better in home stadiums before fan friendly crowds. For some unknown reason that is not happening for the Athletics at this point in time.

Third, it was another one-run loss. All losses are frustrating, but the one-run loss games just seem to come back to haunt a team because they are contests that could have been won if one thing had gone differently in the game. The A’s are 6-7 in one-run games this season.

On Sunday, the A’s took the lead in the bottom of the first inning when Billy Burns was able to steal second and third base and then score on a Stephen Vogt ground out. It looked like things might be going to go the A’s way in the game.

The Yankees scored single runs in the second and third innings off solo home runs from Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury. The crowd became nervous as New York took the 2-1 lead.

Oakland came back to score to two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning when Stephen Vogt hit a double to left field that scored Jake Smolinski and Billy Burns. The crowd came to life with the A’s back in the lead 3-2.

The Yankees served notice that they were not going to go down easily by putting together a four-hit two-run inning in the top of the sixth to retake the lead 4-3.

The Yankees put the dagger into the A’s in the top of the seventh inning. With two and runner at first, Carlos Beltran hit a double down the left field line that allowed the Aaron Hicks to score from first giving New York a 5-3 lead.

The A’s did make it interesting by scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth inning, but it ultimately was too little too late and the Yankees won the game 5-4.

In the batter’s box

Carlos Beltran went 2-for-4, scored a run, had a double and a RBI for the Yankees. He has now hit safely in five straight games (10-for-22, .455).

Jacoby Ellsbury had a 1-for-4 day that featured a home run. He is hitting .310 over his last 24 games.

Mark Teixeira snapped an 0-for-19 hitless streak with an RBI single in the sixth inning

Billy Burns had a big day for the A’s scoring three runs to go with two stolen bases. He went 2-for-4 for the game.

Coco Crisp hit a double and that extends his hitting streak to six games.

Stephen Vogt had a big day going just 1-for-4 but he had three RBI in the game. Two of those RBI came off a two-out double in the bottom of the fifth.

On the hill

The Yankees put together a strong pitching performance on Sunday against the A’s. Starter Michael Pineda (2-5) picked up his second win of the season working six strong innings. Pineda gave up three runs (all earned) on six hits while striking out six batters and walking just one.

Pineda working six innings allowed the Yankees to then go to their three-headed bullpen monster of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Miller did give up a run but it was unearned as it was created by an error. Chapman picked up his sixth save of the season and threw a number of pitches in excess of 100 mph.

Jesse Hahn did not have a bad start for the A’s. He went 5.2 innings giving up four runs (all earned) on six hits. He struck out three and walked none, but he did give up two home runs.

John Axford was asked to come in and get Hahn out of trouble in the sixth was not able to make it happen. The bullpen cannot save the day every time.

Daniel Coulombe who was just called up from Nashville worked the final two innings of the game. He did not give up a hit or a run. Coulombe struck out two and walked none.

The Disabled List continues to grow

The Athletics announced on Sunday that Sonny Gray has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right trapezius. The A’s now have 13 players on the DL which is the most in the Major Leagues.

Gray had been struggling through a very tough beginning to his 2016 season. His record stands at 3-5 with a 6.19 ERA in nine starts.

This is the first time Gray has been on the disabled list in his career.

Left-hander Daniel Coulombe was brought up from Triple-A Nashville to replace Gray on the Major League roster.

This is Coulombe’s second time up with the big club this season. He faced the Red Sox on May 10 giving up three runs (all earned) in two innings of work. Coulombe had a 0.56 ERA in 13 appearances for Nashville.


Up next

The A’s travel to Seattle for a three-game series with the Mariners. The Mariners are coming off a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds and have won four games in a row. Seattle has sole possession of first place in the American League West.

The pitching probables are:

Mon 5/23 LHP Rich Hill (6-3, 2.54) vs RHP Taijuan Walker (2-3, 2.95)

Tue 5/24 RHP Kendall Graveman (1-6, 5.48) vs. RHP Nathan Karns (4-1, 3.33)

Wed 5/25 Athletics To Be Announced vs, Hisashi Iwakuma (2-4, 4.39)

The Yankees return to New York City and will begin a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Injury replacement Hahn and two relievers lead the A’s to a shutout of the Astros

Hahn hot

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–Jesse Hahn, step right up. There’s no line, and no reason to wait.

Closing a rocky stretch in which seven different pitchers started the last seven games, Jesse Hahn came out of nowhere to register the most impressive turn, shutting out the Astros on Saturday along with two relievers in the A’s 2-0 win at the Coliseum.

While Hahn figuratively came out of nowhere, literally he’s a replacement for injured starters Felix Doubront and Chris Bassitt, and was the odd man out in spring training, a guy who made 16 starts for Oakland in 2015, and was as up and down as an elevator in a high rise building.

After posting a 6-6 record with a 3.35 ERA, forearm issues struck in July, sidelining Hahn for the remainder of the season, then after some disappointing outings this spring, he wasn’t seen or heard of in these part until Saturday.

With a fastball registering as swift as 97 mph, and plenty of bite on his breaking pitches, Hahn was simply a revelation on Saturday. The powerful right hander pitched into the seventh inning, allowing three hits and two walks, while striking out four. Bob Melvin, a most interested observer given the unsettled nature of his rotation, said as much in his comments following the game.

“Velocity, movement, mixed his pitches, throwing his curveball for a strike, mixing in a changeup, and you’re throwing 96, 97 mph and throwing strikes,” Melvin recounted. “About as good as we’ve seen him.”

Hahn worked fast, a huge advantage for the A’s error-prone defenders, starting 18 of 23 batters with a strike. His ball-strike ratio wasn’t great, so he did fall into some deep counts, but needed just 81 pitches to get the A’s into the seventh inning. By any measure this was the best outing an A’s starter has posted in 2016.

“I was throwing strikes,” Hahn said. “That was the most important thing: strike one and being able to put hitters away.”

One major qualifier in Hahn’s seamless appearance is the current state of the Astros, now tied for the worst record in the American League after winning just seven of 24 in April, and failing to win consecutive games even once. Last April, the Astros shot out of the gate at 15-7 and went from there to a first playoff appearance in 10 seasons.

“We all know we’re capable of playing a lot better,” Houston’s Scott Feldman said. “With May, hopefully something magical happens. We’ll get this thing turned around and start playing to our capabilities.

Feldman threw three innings of scoreless relief, after Chris Devenski went five innings, allowed both Oakland runs and took the loss. It was an exchange of roles as Devenski, a reliever, replaced the struggling Feldman in Houston’s rotation. Devenski pitched well, but pitched tentatively in the second, according to manager A.J. Hinch, when he allowed Billy Burns’ two-run single scoring Yonder Alonso and Josh Phegley.

Against Hahn, Carlos Correia’s one-out, double in the seventh qualified as Houston’s biggest—and only—blow. After Hahn departed, John Axford and Ryan Madson finished the job. Madson walked a couple of batters, giving Houston a sliver of light, but cleanup hitter Evan Gattis grounded into a game-ending double play with two baserunners aboard.

The A’s finished 13-12 in April, the third time in four years, excluding last April, that the A’s have posted a winning record in the opening month. Texas defeated the Angels Saturday night, 7-2, to maintain their 1 ½ game lead over Oakland in the AL West with Seattle in second, a game ahead of the A’s.

On Sunday, Rich Hill starts for Oakland, and Doug Fister gets the ball for Houston, with the Astros looking to avoid a three-game sweep. The 32-year old Fister has lost three consecutive starts, and his 5.56 ERA is more than two runs higher than his career mark.