The Oakland A’s have suffered their fair share of brutal losses as they make their way to the All-Star break. Losing a significant lead and a game against the Houston Astros – taking another step down in the American League West – is one of them.
The A lost 9-6 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night to start a crucial three-game run against a league rival they won’t see again until the last few weeks of the regular season. While it may be early in the unofficial first half of the season to fight for the top spot in the league, the result of this streak could determine the A’s prospects for the second half. Can you start the second half and defend first place? Or will they fight for a wildcard spot on the track again?
They are 2-8 in their last 10 games and are 4.5 games behind the Astros in the division.
Where it went wrong: The starting rotation of an A, which came into the series with a league-leading 493 innings, was pitted against a 137-run differential offense and leads baseball in most major stroke categories. A little tiredness met dominance. And that won’t fly.
“It’s that time of year you try to get to the all-star break and try to catch a second wind and move on from there,” said A-starter Chris Bassitt. “Like I said, we had a win and they took it from us. And I gave it to them. ”
Bassitt was not himself during his 4 1/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of the season. He gave up six runs that season, five of them courtesy of Yordan Alvarez on two home runs. The first, a two-run home run, cut into the A’s three-run lead. The second came in the fifth inning, the turning point of the game. A triple home run linked the game with 6-6 and Bassitt got the hook.
Bassitt said he missed positions on the cutter and the plumb line he threw to Alvarez. Without life in his places, Bassitt cannot afford to miss places in this Astros lineup.
“If you miss locations, you’d better liven up the squares, and I had nothing today,” said Bassitt. “This whole lineup is disgusting. But if you don’t have your things, good luck. ”
Bassitt’s six earned runs were the highest he has allowed all season, and his 4 1/3 innings was his shortest appearance since playing the Seattle Mariners four times on June 1 -in with a 3.04 ERA. He left with his first loss since April 6 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. His six runs enabled Snaps to do a 28-start streak in which Bassitt kept his opponents on four or fewer runs.
“He gave up six runs today, he hasn’t done that all year,” said manager Bob Melvin. “They put together some pretty good bats, but there was a swing in the fifth. We had the first and third nobody out and couldn’t score and they came back with a three in the bottom half. ”
Relieved, JB Wendelken put on two runners with a hit and walk and brought them into the goal position with a wild pitch. The knowledgeable cleaning assistant Yusmeiro Petit was unable to clean up this mess; Jose Altuve hit a two-pass single that threw off Elvis Andrus’ gauntlet with infield play and an open base. Houston took the first and last lead.
“I wish I had one more out or had to take one out and now he’s got to go through a difficult part of the line-up,” Melvin said of Petit’s performance. “Have to throw punches and be aggressive. That was a difficult situation that I put him in and I told him that. ”
Somewhat confused: A stuttering offensive that came into the game that beat .193 as a team in the last nine games came out that fired against Houston starter Framber Valdez.
Valdez missed his fastball position early and the A’s jumped and collected a run on three hits from Ramón Laureano, Elvis Andrus and Matt Olson on his first four pitches. Chad Pinder and Jed Lowrie attacked with two hits and two more runs to give the A a 3-0 lead. Stephen Piscotty, back from the IL, Laureano, Andrus and Olson rallied for three more in the next inning.
“We know that he likes to establish his vertical and work in his change-up and curveball,” said Andrus. “So we did a great job today, being aggressive and using the big field, the right side, and we got a lot of runs early on.”
Valdez made an adjustment, throwing more curveballs and changeups earlier in the count to keep the A’s goalless for the last three innings than his five-inning outing. That fifth inning turned out to be the biggest shift in dynamics; Olson and Matt Chapman chose to put runners in the corners with no outs, but the A’s couldn’t get a run in.
At least the offensive woke up for a crucial series; they know that an average of 0.193 in Houston is not enough.
“It was big, especially on this show,” said Andrus. “We know that we have to score. That’s the only way you can beat this team, Houston, they get a lot of runs. Besides a good defense and pitching, you have to score early. We’re glad we made it, but it didn’t work out in the end. ”