Despite their best efforts, not even the Houston Astros dreadful bullpen could blow another save. With a one run lead in the ninth reliever Chia-Jen Lo twice came within inches of giving up a walk-off two run Home Run. Instead, he recorded his first Major League save and the Astros snapped their sixth sixth game losing streak.
The game started very well for the Astros. After a quick first inning, Brandon Barnes opened up the scoring on Oakland starter, Bartolo Colon, with a 2 run double. Jason Castro picked up a Sacrifice Fly in the third, driving in Robbie Grossman, and then Chris Carter hit a booming double that scored Brett Wallace from second, where he was after his first stolen base of the season. Brandon Barnes led off the fourth with another double and would eventually cross home when Jonathan Villar grounded into a double play. Colon would be pulled after the fourth inning and the Astros only managed 5 baserunners in the last 5 innings against the A’s bullpen.
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Jordan Lyles bounced back from a stretch of rough outings, looking very poised in his 7 inning of 1 run ball. Lyles gladly gave up his only run in exchange for a double play after Josh Donaldson led off the A’s fifth with a triple. Lyles was never really in trouble throughout the night as he commanded his pitches very well, jumping out ahead of hitters often. All in all, he allowed 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts, all on only 99 pitches.
Stop me if you have heard this before. The Astros score in a flurry, early. The starter throws well. The bullpen blows it in heart-wrenching fashion. The final six outs of the game were anything but a formality, as the Astros bullpen gave up 3 runs before closing out the game.
In the 8th, Josh Zeid struck out the first two batters he faced. Jed Lowrie knocked a single into right field and then advanced to second on a wild pitch from Zeid. Lowrie then scurried to third when Zeid made an errant pickoff attempt, bouncing the ball off of Lowrie’s knee into the outfield. On a full count, A’s clean up man Josh Reddick lined a change-up to center field, scoring Lowrie. The next batter was 2013 Home-Run Derby winner, Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes promptly deposited Zeid’s pitch into the stand in left field, and just like that, it was 5-4. Bo Porter called on another recent Oklahoma City callup, lefty Kevin Chapman to stop the bleeding. Chapman instead hit former Astros, Nate Freiman with the one and only pitch he threw. Chia-Jen Lo would end the inning on one pitch, getting Josh Donaldson to fly out to Barnes.
The Astros failed to score a still ailing Jose Altuve after he doubled in the ninth, and Lo would return to the mound to try to earn the save. Lo retired the first batter he faced, and then walked Stephen Vogt to bring up the winning run in Eric Sogard. Sogard crushed a pitch to the warning track, but was retired for the second out. Then, Houston native and Astro killer Chris Young stepped into the plate, again representing the winning run. On a 0-1 pitch, Young hit a ball that traveled 400 feet, but about 6 inches foul, to left field. The umpires would review the call and would indeed confirm that the ball missed the foul pole by mere inches.
With the count now 0-2, Lo struck out Young to end a heart racing game. You can say a lot of things about this Astros team, but you can’t say they don’t make things interesting.
Player(s) of the Game:
- Brandon Barnes. 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs.
- Jordan Lyles. 7 IP, 5H, 2BB, 3K, 1ER.