The A's reinstated Brandon McCarthy and optioned Daric Barton to Triple-A Sacramento. McCarthy returns from the 15-day disabled list after suffering from irregular soreness in his right shoulder. He was the A's opening day starter and is 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA. McCarthy is starting today, so the move doesn't come as a surprise. McCarthy has been on the DL seven times in his career. Last season at this exact time he missed six weeks with a shoulder strain. After he was placed on the DL, he told me that his most recent shoulder flare up isn't as serious as the one that forced him to miss time last year. The A's had one player-option left on Barton, which made him a candidate to be sent to Triple-A. He is hitting .198, with one homer and four RBIs in 37 games. Those numbers don't cut it in a corner infield position, or really any position for that matter. He spent four games in Sacramento with the River Cats earlier in the season while rehabbing from a strained right shoulder. He was recalled April 9 which resulted in the A's designating Brandon Allen for assignment. Barton has no errors this season, but never figured it out offensively. During the A's previous road trip Bob Melvin said he wanted Barton to be more aggressive at the plate. He was 8 for 49 (.163) with 10 walks in his last 17 games.
The A’s took a noteworthy step toward changing the narrative in their recent history against the Houston Astros.
Coming through during clutch moments, both at the plate and on the mound, Oakland beat baseball’s best team 6-4 Tuesday at Minute Maid Park to run their winning streak to four.
Ryon Healy hit his first career grand slam to snap a 1-1 tie in the sixth, and starter Sean Manaea notched his first victory in seven career starts against the Astros, throwing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.
George Springer’s three-run homer off Liam Hendriks pulled Houston to within two runs in the ninth, but with two runners aboard, Santiago Casilla coaxed a 3-6-1 double play from Brian McCann to end it.
The A’s (35-42), who have stumbled so badly on the road for the majority of this season, moved to 4-0 on this six-game road trip and defeated the Astros (52-26) for just the second time in their past 17 meetings with them.
Key two-out rallies: They came in with a majors-worst .225 average with runners in scoring position, but the A’s delivered in some key at-bats and scored five of their six runs with two outs. Bruce Maxwell singled home Khris Davis in the second to get the A’s on the board. Then with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, with the score 1-1, Ryon Healy capped an eight-pitch at-bat with an opposite-field grand slam, his 18th homer of the season.
Making himself at home: Sean Manaea (7-4) flirted with danger throughout his 5 2/3 innings but wound up registering his first victory in seven career starts against Houston. He stranded two runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, then wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with minimal damage. With no outs and the bags filled, Manaea fell behind 3-0 to Evan Gattis. Gattis chased a low pitch that would have been ball four and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. A run scored on the play but that play defused the rally and Manaea escaped with just the one run scoring that kept it a 1-1 game. The lefty gave up nine hits, but he’s now allowed just one earned run over three career starts at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park (16 IP).
Madson comes up clutch: Ryan Madson took two losses in four appearances at Minute Maid Park last season and allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. But manager Bob Melvin called on him in a crucial situation Tuesday, with two runners aboard and George Springer hitting in the sixth with the A’s up 5-1. Madson got Springer swinging on a 97 mile-per-hour fastball to end the inning and keep Houston from jumping back into the game after Oakland had scored four to command the lead. Madson retired all four batters he faced with three strikeouts.
Maxwell continues his roll: The A’s catcher went 3-for-4 and is 10-for-18 since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville. He also threw out Jose Altuve trying to steal second in the first.
Casilla slams the door: After Springer’s three-run shot in the ninth, Santiago Casilla entered and allowed singles to Altuve and Carlos Correa to bring the winning run to the plate. But Casilla retired pinch hitter Josh Reddick on a foul pop out and got McCann on the game-ending double play, getting over to cover first to cap the play.
The A’s aren’t expecting rookie third baseman Matt Chapman to return to the lineup until next week most likely.
Manager Bob Melvin told reporters in Houston that Chapman will rejoin the A’s and work out with the team Friday when they return to begin their next homestand against the Atlanta Braves. Chapman was placed on the 10-day D.L. Thursday with a knee infection that landed him in the hospital for a couple of days.
“He has not done any baseball activity yet,” Melvin said. “We're for sure going to do a couple of days worth of baseball activity. Whether or not he goes out for a (minor league rehab) game or two, we're still deciding on that depending on how he feels Friday.”
Melvin said he’s kept in touch with Chapman via text message, which keeps him in tune with how eager the rookie is to return to the lineup. The highly touted prospect received his first major league call-up June 15 and started four games before being sidelined with cellulitis, a bacterial infection, in his knee. The A’s checked him into a hospital so he could receive an intravenous antibiotic.
“He texts me all the time, after almost every game,” Melvin said. “He tells me he feels better than some of the reports I get sometimes. He's laying in a hospital bed telling me he's ready to play, so I take that with a grain of salt."