The Houston Astros improved to 2-0 on the young season while the Oakland Athletics are now 0-2.
Jesus Luzardo looked good in the first inning even though he gave up a leadoff single to Jose Altuve. He struck Michael Brantley out, got Alex Bregman to fly out and Kyle Tucker grounded out to end the inning.
Yet it was the second inning where things began to change. Houston didn’t score any runs though, Luzardo did strikeout Carlos Correa and Yordan Alvarez before giving up back-to-back singles before getting Martin Maldonado to strikeout. The issue was the amount of pitches that got seen.
So the third is when the wheels started to fall off for Luzardo. He threw primarily fastballs and struggled a bit with control as he walked Altuve to start the inning, then gave up a double to Brantley, and fell behind to Bregman who then hit a fastball out to left field for a three-run home run. Giving the Astros the early 3-0 lead.
Luzardo was able to get out of the inning without anymore damage by getting Tucker to fly out, Correa to strikeout, and Alvarez to ground out. It didn’t really get better in the fourth as Yuli Gurriel hit a solo home run to lead off the inning. Altuve got on-base with an infield single and Brantley doubled him in.
Oakland’s offense did finally put a decent inning together, yet only managed to score two runs. Mark Canha reached on an infield single which was the first hit of the game for the A’s. It meant starter Cristian Javier got to pitch from the stretch and it affected him. He gave up an RBI triple to Ramon Laureano who is likely thankful that Myles Straw is now in center field for the Astros, as George Springer likely makes the catch on that play.
Matt Olson then got hit by a pitch to put runners on first and third. Matt Chapman struck out swinging, Mitch Moreland made Javier work and eventually ended up with a sacrifice fly. The Astros then went to the bullpen after Jed Lowrie singled. Elvis Andrus ended the inning with a fielder’s choice.
In the seventh inning is where the defense cost the A’s a run. Altuve again as he got walked by Burch Smith. Brantley then lined out, Bregman singled to put runners on first and third with one out. Tucker hits a high pop up that barely makes it out of the infield. With the element of surprise Altuve tags up on the play and catches Andrus not paying attention and he was able to score as a result.
The A’s were able to get two runs back though. As Lowrie opened the bottom of the inning with a leadoff walk. After a fly out by Andrus, Chad Pinder pinch hit for Ka’ai Tom. On the first pitch he saw he swung hard yet missed. He didn’t miss on the second pitch for the two-run home run.
Even more surprising Oakland got within a run in the eighth. Olson doubled to left field after Brantley wasn’t able to come up with a sliding catch. Chapman grounded out to second allowing Olson to get to third, pinch hitter Stephen Piscotty then gronded to short to bring in Olson. Lowrie then singled and Andrus fouled out to end the inning.
Manager Bob Melvin went to lefty Jake Diekman in the ninth and it was an eventful one for him. Altuve singled, Brantley doubled, Bregman was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out. With the infield shifted Andrus got the opportunity to make a play on a hard hit ball off the bat of Tucker. If he makes the play it’s at least an out at home and possibly at first for a double play, yet instead it became a two run single.
Diekman then got Correa and Alvarez to strikeout before Melvin went to J.B. Wendelken. He essentially unintentionally walked Gurriel to load the bases again. Straw appared to have grounded out to first except Olson bobbled the ball and before he was able to shovel the baseball to Wendelken, Straw was safe. The error allowed another run to score. Maldonado ended the inning by lining out.
Oakland did get two runners on in the bottom of the ninth before Olson ended the game with a fielder’s choice.
The A’s will look to avoid an 0-3 start by sending Cole Irvin who impressed in the spring. Houston will counter with Lance McCullers Jr.
Notes: Catcher Sean Murphy got scratched from the lineup as he got hit by a pitch the night before. Laureano left the game after appearing to jam his finger after sliding to first base trying to reach on an infield single.