Astros Blasting Off: A’s get caught in their vapor trail in 9-1 loss

By Morris Phillips

You know the popular methods employed by big league teams in 2019: home runs, walks and, accordingly strikeouts. Power pitching and at least for now, starters are ahead of bullpens, and both units are ahead of the hitters.

The Houston Astros are the current masters of all those methods, and they arrived in Oakland Tuesday with a reminder for the A’s of what having all those facets working looks like.

Like a 9-1 humbling defeat for the home team, the A’s fourth consecutive loss to the defending AL West champions, part of what is now a 10-game win streak for the Astros.

“I brought my worst game to a very good lineup,” said A’s starter Marco Estrada, who was lifted in the fourth inning with the A’s trailing 4-0. “Obviously that’s not going to cut it. Can’t go out there with missing the spots like I was today. Just not going to work against anybody.”

George Springer found himself staring at Estrada’s juciest offering six pitches in, an 86 mph fastball on a 3-2 count that the slugger deposited 440 feet from home plate. Josh Reddick hit his first home run of the season off Estrada in the second with Yuri Gurriel aboard. And the 35-year old was done after issuing Springer a bases loaded walk in the fourth.

“They didn’t chase, he walked some guys, got in some deep counts.. (Estrada) wasn’t throwing anything off the plate today that they were chasing,” manager Bob Melvin said of his starter who fell to 0-2 with an unsightly 6.85 ERA.

Liam Hendricks inherited Estrada’s mess and struck out the planet’s hottest hitter, Jose Altuve. The diminutive slugger homered six times in a five-game streak last week, and took a pair of healthy cuts against the A’s reliever without success.

That was good.

But Alex Bregman followed and was all over Hendricks’ changeup that traveled just 82 mph to the plate.

That was bad.

Bregman’s grand slam was the third Astros’ slam during their streak that started April 5 against Oakland. It gave Houston an insurmountable 8-0 lead and prompted Bregman’s quote-fest after the game.

“I think I’ve just been terrible, honestly,” Bregman confessed. “I haven’t been good at all offensively. Today was a step in the right direction. I’m getting beat by heaters that I never get beat by. Basically [I’m] just horrible at the plate. Honest, I’ve been terrible.”

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast with Barbara Mason: Durant has some defensive skills; Will charges get dropped for Kraft?; plus more

Photo credit: @basketballboom

Barbara Mason is filling in for Amaury Pi Gonzalez:

#1 Golden State’s Kevin Durant gets lots of credit for his work shooting the basketball, but his defensive prowess also is something that he should take a lot of credit for as well.

#2 New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s solicitation charge is something that some have said shouldn’t even be that big of deal. Some say this is human trafficking. How deep is Kraft in and could he work things out with the justice system in Florida where this took place?

#3 How possible is it that the San Francisco 49ers could obtain the services of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown and the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr, who are noted two of the best wide receivers in the NFL?

#4 Oakland Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock is at the controls as the Raiders, who are about to get three first round picks for the 2019 NFL draft.

#5 The Oakland A’s are taking a close look at pitcher Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada as opening day starters. Fiers joined the A’s in August (5-2, 3.74 ERA) could be the most likely starter for opening day.

Barbara Mason is filling in for Amaury Pi Gonzalez for News and Commentary at

Late rally downs Bumgarner, Giants

By Jeremy Harness

August 7, 2013


SAN FRANCISCO – As the eighth inning began, things were looking pretty good for the Giants.

Starter Madison Bumgarner had been giving a spectacular performance, going seven innings and giving up only a pair of hits and a walk while the Giants had just given him a run in the bottom of the seventh to put him in line for a possible win.

That’s when the good feelings ceased, however. The Milwaukee Brewers tagged Bumgarner for four runs in the eighth inning as the Giants fell 6-1 before 41,416 hopeful fans at AT&T Park Wednesday night.

Looking on the bright side, however, Bumgarner now has 10 straight outings that he has pitched at least seven innings, which is the longest streak by a Giants starter since Rick Reuschel had 11 consecutive to end the 1988 season.

The Giants couldn’t get anything going offensively against starter Marco Estrada, managing only one hit against him in the five innings he pitched.

It wasn’t just Estrada who the Giants had issues with on Wednesday. They also have center fielder Carlos Gomez to thank for keeping them off the scoreboard. They hit several hard shots in Gomez’s area, only to watch him run each one of them down.

That started in the first inning, when Buster Posey smacked one that was destined for extra bases, a ball which Gomez leaped at the warning track and snared to end the inning.

The Giants did get a little payback in the seventh inning, though. After he walked with two outs, Bumgarner timed his pickoff move perfectly as Gomez was trying to steal second. From there, first baseman Brandon Belt fired to second for the putout as Gomez spiked his helmet in frustration.

That seemed to spark a rally for the Giants that carried over to the bottom of the inning, as the two Brandons got on base to start things off, Crawford with a walk and Belt with a single that just skipped past second baseman Rickie Weeks’ glove.

A wild pitch by reliever Alfredo Figaro then moved both of them into scoring position with Posey at the plate. Posey was robbed again of a base hit – this time by a diving grab in left field by Khris Davis – but Crawford tagged up from third to put the Giants in front and take the lid off of the scoreless game.

However, the Brewers themselves got some momentum against Bumgarner in the eighth that eventually knocked him out of the game. Davis and Yuniesky Betancourt led off the inning with hits before Jeff Bianchi scored Davis. On the next play, Betancourt scored on a throwing error by Bumgarner on a fielder;’s choice, which gave the Brewers the lead. After the outburst in the eighth, the Brewers put up two more runs off reliever Barry Zito to send even more fans to the exits.