Manufacturing drama in a 10-1 blowout is no easy task, but Houston Astros reliever Paul Clemens managed it when he plunked the A’s Jed Lowrie in the top of the seventh Thursday.
If the lopsided score is any indication of how this four-game series will go, we’ll need some sort of extracurricular activity to add spice to this matchup.
After Clemens threw at Lowrie twice last Friday in a game at Oakland -- in apparent retaliation for Lowrie dropping a bunt with a seven-run lead earlier in that game -- everyone in the A’s clubhouse figured the ill will would be left in the rear-view mirror. Then Clemens fired a 95 mile-per-hour fastball behind Lowrie on Thursday that caught him on the backside.
Home plate umpire Toby Basner immediately ejected Clemens, and you wonder how events will unfold between these teams for the remainder of the 15 games they’ll play this season.
[RECAP: A's 10, Astros 1]
“I don't even know what to say about that,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters afterward. “I have no comment."
Lowrie, who exchanged words with Astros manager Bo Porter after nearly getting hit last Friday, called Thursday’s incident "flat-out embarrassing” for the Astros.
Clemens told reporters: “There was no carryover on my end. What happened in Oakland was squashed in Oakland.”
And this from Porter: “The game of baseball takes care of itself. (Astros right fielder) George Springer got hit tonight, too. It’s part of the game.”
He neglected to mention that Springer was hit on an 0-2 pitch in the first inning with two runners on base, and that A’s starter Scott Kazmir was clearly ticked at himself for also putting Springer on base.
But wade through the in-game drama, the ejection and the postgame comments, and there was a lot for the A’s to feel good about.
Coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of Texas, the A’s did well to put that mess behind them and get healthy offensively with 14 hits against four Houston pitchers. And it’s no surprise to see it happen away from the Coliseum. The A’s are now an American League-best 8-2 on the road.
Though Astros starting pitcher Brett Oberholtzer clearly didn’t have his best stuff -- he managed to heave 93 pitches in just 3 2/3 innings -- it had to be heartening for Melvin to see Lowrie, and especially Josh Donaldson, have big games.
Donaldson hit a pair of long-distance two-run homers -- the first multi-homer game of his career -- and finished with three hits. After a slow start at the plate this season, Donaldson is hitting .289 and leads the A’s with six homers and 18 RBI.
True, he also leads Major League third basemen with five errors. But we know how quality of a defender Donaldson is. Most of his errors have been routine plays, and you figure he’ll round into form with the glove.
But seeing Donaldson show signs of being the hitter he was for all of 2013 -- that’s huge for the A’s, particularly if Yoenis Cespedes’ hamstring strain keeps him out for an extended period.
So while the fallout from the Lowrie/Clemens incident figures to dominate the discussion surrounding Thursday’s game, simply glance at the A’s box score and you’ll glean the meaningful significance from this one.