OAKLAND – The outcome might have been shocking had the A’s not dropped so many clues that Saturday’s game ultimately would end badly for them.
Even in building a five-run lead, there were numerous malfunctions that a team pays for against a dangerous opponent. It all caught up to the A’s in a 10-6 loss to the Houston Astros in front of a Coliseum crowd that understandably grew disgruntled as the afternoon wore on.
It’s tough to make off with a ‘W’ when your pitching staff issues eight walks. Or when your defense makes two errors on one play that costs two runs. Or when two bases-loaded opportunities wind up netting zero runs.
That’s not a complete list of all that went wrong, but it provides a clue as to why this one played out the way it did. The A’s have lost three in a row, and the news wasn’t great on the injury front Saturday morning as shortstop Marcus Semien underwent an MRI for a sore right wrist.
The A’s built a 5-0 lead after striking for three in the second inning, then getting home runs from Trevor Plouffe and Khris Davis in the fifth. But Houston began chipping away with two in the sixth, then two more in the seventh.
Things got ugly in the eighth, when the Astros put runners on second and third with one out against Santiago Casilla, trailing 5-4, and Sean Doolittle came on to relieve him. Doolittle threw a wild pitch on his first offering to bring home the tying run and move Brian McCann to third base. He would score on Nori Aoki’s sacrifice fly to put the Astros ahead. George Springer’s two-run homer made it 8-5, and the A’s couldn’t muster the needed comeback magic.
Starting pitching report:
Sean Manaea put together another crazy pitching line. In his previous start, he struck out 10 while allowing six runs against the Texas Rangers. On Saturday, he exited in the sixth inning having walked five but allowing zero hits. He had swing-and-miss stuff, as his six strikeouts would suggest. But his command deserted him in the sixth, when he issued three consecutive free passes to open the inning. With the bases loaded, Carlos Correa smoked a liner that got past shortstop Adam Rosales for an error. Two runs wound up scoring on the play as center fielder Jaff Decker mishandled the ball for another error. With the A’s lead cut to 5-2, manager Bob Melvin came to get Manaea, who threw 98 pitches over five-plus innings and was charged with two runs (one earned).
There was plenty of blame to go around in this area, as five relievers combined to allow eight earned runs. Doolittle was on the mound when the lead changed hands, but it doesn’t all fall on him. Casilla walked two to spark Houston’s go-ahead rally, and then Frankie Montas gave up two runs late to stymie any thoughts of a comeback. And it’s worth noting the relief corps has been overworked the past two days with short starts from Kendall Graveman and Manaea, respectively.
At the plate:
Plouffe is showing signs of awakening offensively. He homered for the second consecutive game also drew two walks in the No. 2 spot in the batting order. He was in that spot with both Marcus Semien and Rajai Davis out of the lineup. Two batters after Plouffe went deep, Khris Davis connected for his sixth homer, an opposite-field shot to right-center on a curve ball on the outer part of the
In the field:
Defensive mistakes continue to bite the A’s at bad times. Correa scorched his sixth-inning liner, but Rosales should have caught it, and Decker’s error on the same play led to a second run scoring on the play. The A’s have committed a major league-high 15 errors, including at least one in each of the last nine games.
A crowd of 20,140 was on hand.
This series wraps with a 1:05 p.m. game Sunday as Jharel Cotton (1-1, 3.97) matches up against Charlie Morton (0-1, 4.09), who will be facing the A’s for the first time in his career.