For most of the night it looked as though Dallas Keuchel and the Astros were going to come up short against the Oakland A’s. Continuing with a couple of recent trends — Keuchel was inducing a ton of weakly hit ground balls and the Astros offense was having trouble putting hits together.
After seven innings, Keuchel had recorded 15 outs on grounders and three more on strikeouts. Meanwhile, the A’s were making great defensive plays on everything the Astros hit hard. As a result, the A’s were clinging to a 2-1 lead when the game was turned over to the bullpens in the eighth.
The Astros managed only three hits against Oakland starter Jason Hammel, scoring the lone run on Dexter Fowler‘s fourth inning homer. But when Luke Gregerson relieved Hammel in the eighth, the Astros fortunes started to change. An error by first-baseman Stephen Vogt and a hit batsman set the stage for Chris Carter to exact revenge on the team that traded him away prior to the 2013 season. And Carter did exactly that.
A towering 3-run shot to leftfield put the Astros on top by a score of 4-2. It had to be an especially good feeling for Carter, who had already been robbed of a couple of RBIs earlier in the game. A’s left-fielder Jonny Gomes made a diving catch on Carter’s hard hit line drive to end the third inning. The Astros had two runners in scoring position at the time.
The Astros had to be happy to see Hammel removed from the game. He left after throwing only 93 pitches and having retired the last ten batters he faced. On the other side of the coin, Keuchel threw 118 pitches and was continually working out of trouble. Marwin Gonzalez made a couple of nice plays behind Keuchel to help limit the damage.
Josh Fields was awarded the victory after retiring the A’s in order in the eighth. Chad Qualls picked up his 15th save with a perfect ninth. Matt Dominguez, who had just entered the game as a defensive replacement, made an outstanding play to get the first out for Chad on a weakly hit chopper to the left side. Two batters later, Coco Crisp struck out looking and the Astros had their 56th win of the year.