The implication from the headline of this recap would be that the Athletics won today with the help of perhaps an egregious blown call that just happened to lean in their favor. That wasn’t the case though. What was the case was a seriously sloppy first few innings that saw poor pitching, poor defense, and poor situational hitting that resulted in the Athletics falling into a 3-0 hole that would have been much deeper had they been playing a higher quality team than the hapless Houston Astros.
Tommy Milone has been dealing with some serious bouts of inconsistency so far this year, so much so that he can’t even maintain consistency throughout a single start. In this case though, the lack of consistency worked out as he overcame his early inning struggles and managed to give the A’s 6 strong innings and kept them in a position to be able to come back and win the game. He didn’t get much help though, as a Jed Lowrie error turned a lead off Justin Maxwell double into the Astros first run of the night in the 2nd inning. An RBI single from Chris Carter in the 3rd, followed by a pop fly that dropped in between Grant Green and Coco Crisp in a bout of miscommunication that made it 3-0. Milone would start to settle things down, and give the A’s a fighting chance.
They had their first and best scoring chance in the top of the 6th inning when Grant Green came up with the bases loaded and a chance to make his first impact with the bat. Still looking for his first major league hit, Green would not get in the hit column but would drive home the A’s first run with a sacrifice fly. Many have grown impatient with his lack of offensive production, and his lack of defensive aptitude, but he has hit the ball hard a number of times and had the defense steal away his first hit. His time will come, and he’ll prove his worth to the team at some point.
The A’s would inch closer when Chris Young sent a rocket into the Crawford Boxes in left field, as he apparently is prone to do when he visits his native Houston. The home run came against former Athletics pitcher Travis Blackley, still a fan favorite and sorely missed, but in this case he was nothing more than an enemy standing in the way of a victory. Ryan Cook would work a dominant shut down inning, setting up the decisive top of the 8th inning.
Big Nate Freiman got a rare plate appearance versus the right handed Hector Ambriz, and delivered a lead off single before being replaced by Brandon Moss on the basepaths. With 1 out, Josh Reddick would come up to bat against the lefty Wesley Wright and after working the count full launched a no doubt 2-run home run into the right field bleachers to give the A’s a 4-3 lead and complete the comeback. Reddick had failed in a big spot earlier in the game as he popped up to the catcher in foul territory on the first pitch with two runners on in the 4th inning. Reddick snapped his bat in two over his knee, a la Bo Jackson back in the day in an expression of extreme frustration. That has been the feeling of many within the Athletics universe this year, so it was nice to see him rebound and redeem himself in a crucial spot later in the game.
The win keeps the A’s 3 games ahead of the Texas Rangers in the AL West after they shut out the New York Yankees tonight. Tomorrow night’s game features a battle of Jarrod vs. Jarred, as Jarrod Parker (6-6, 3.95 ERA) takes on Jarred Cosart who tossed 8 scoreless innings in winning his MLB debut in his last outing. Chances are it will be a tough task as the A’s battle against an unknown foe who has a very high ceiling much like their own Sonny Gray, whom Cosart replaced as the PCL starter in the Triple A All-Star Game last week when Gray was with the A’s. The Astros will bring forth a number of talented young players over the coming years from their high draft picks and trades, so the A’s will have to get used to seeing the likes of Jarred Cosart and company on a frequent basis.