The Athletics were already well on their way to securing yet another victory against the Houston Astros on Thursday night, when Jed Lowrie was plunked by Clemens. Not the bat-throwing, alleged steroid using Roger Clemens, but the relatively unknown 26 year-old righty Paul Clemens.
Last week, manager Bo Porter and the Houston Astros seemed to take offense with Jed Lowrie laying down a bunt in the first inning of what was already a 7-0 contest. Lowrie laid down the bunt, trying to beat the shift that was in place against him, and beat out the throw to first base. That is not how the Astros saw it, because in Lowrie’s next at-bat, Paul Clemens threw a pitch that sailed between Jed’s legs. It was a blatant attempt to send a message to the Athletics. Both benches were warned that night, and the situation fizzled. Tonight, after Clemens nailed Lowrie on the back-side, he was immediately ejected by the home plate umpire.
The position taken by the Astros is understandable. They don’t want cheap outs, they want to compete. They don’t want to be taken lightly. They want a team’s best effort. The way the situation has been handled however, could do more damage than good. Bo Porter is teaching his players to hold on to grudges; to retaliate multiple times. Baseball is played every day. Each game is a new opportunity to start with a clean slate. A fresh look at a new day creates opportunity for growth, especially for younger players, of which the Astros have plenty.
Assuming Bo Porter called for Lowrie to be hit both times, as is common in baseball, he has hindered his player’s growth mentally. If they hang on to the past, they can never play for the future. Instead, Bo Porter should be taking notes of teams not taking his club seriously, and use that as motivation in a couple of years when more of their prospects have developed and the Astros will assumedly be a much better ball club.
All of the drama aside, the Athletics cruised to a 10-1 victory in Houston. Josh Donaldson hit 2 HRs and collected 4 RBI to bring his season totals to 6 HR and 18 RBI. These are among the league leaders, and a consistent campaign of this caliber could land Donaldson in the MVP race yet again.
Scott Kazmir went 6 IP, allowed 5 hits and 1 run while striking out 7. His record climbs to 3-0 on the season.
With the win, the Athletics climb back atop the AL West in a tie with the Texas Rangers at 14-8, with both teams holding a 3.5 game lead over the Angels. The A’s got the road trip started on the right foot, and need to continue that success through the weekend. Next week the Athletics face the Rangers and the Boston Red Sox. It’ll be a tough week, so collecting wins against the lowly Astros will be key over the next couple of days.
You can find Athletics vs. Astros tickets for the remainder of the series from MyTicketIn.com.