If you don’t have Comcast SportsNet Houston, you didn’t miss much last night. Astros hitters piled up another 13 strikeouts in their 8-3 loss to the Oakland A’s. Eleven of those Ks came against Oakland starter Dan Straily, who was basically on loan from AAA. Straily went 6 & 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and two runs. He didn’t walk a batter.
Rick Ankiel got the nod in rightfield for the Astros and responded with an 0 for 4 night with four strikeouts. Although, he did play solid defense. (sarcasm intended) Since his pinch-hit homer in Sunday’s opener, Ankiel has fanned in nine of his ten plate appearances.
Brett Wallacewhiffed three times. But he managed to come through when it really counted. With two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning, Wallace lofted a routine fly ball to centerfield. (more sarcasm) It was his only contact of the night and the third time in four games that he has managed to hit a fair ball. Wallace is now 1 for 14 with one walk and 11 strikeouts on the young season. You can’t help but wonder what could have been. The only conceivable way for the Astros to hang on to Nate Freiman would have been to send Wallace to the minors. Freiman went hitless in Friday’s game for Oakland, but he did hit three line drives along the way. The big guy is 2 for 8 on the season with a couple of RBIs. He has only struck out once.
Unlike the previous two contests, the Astros, at least, managed to get on the scoreboard. After it was already 8-0 the Astros posted a trio of cosmetic markers. Jose Altuve drove in Marwin Gonzalez in the sixth inning to end the long scoreless drought for Houston. Altuve, Gonzalez, and Matt Dominguez had two hits apiece for the night.
Astros starter Brad Peacock allowed a leadoff homer to Coco Crisp but managed to keep his team within striking distance into the fifth inning. After recording an out to start the frame, Peacock surrendered a double to Crisp and was taken out in favor of Xavier Cedeno. That’s when things fell apart for the Astros. Cedeno promptly walked the first two batters he faced and, much to my surprise, stayed in the game to face Yoenis Cespedes. I say promptly– although Cedeno’s pace on the mound was anything but. Eventually, Cespedes hit a hard grounder toward short, but Marwin Gonzalez was unable to make the play. Gonzalez was probably starting to fall asleep after standing around for what seemed like an hour after Peacock exited.
What could have been an inning-ending double play wound up plating two runs. Cedeno stayed on the mound to face four more hitters, failing to retire any of them. Rhiner Cruz came in to stop the bleeding, but the A’s had already blown the game open by scoring seven runs in the frame.
Bud Norris will try to get the Astros back in the win column tonight in game two of the three-game series. Norris will be opposed by Bartolo Colon who is making his first appearance since serving a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.