HOUSTON, Tex. -- If the A's are going to repeat as American League West Champions, they need to capitalize on their 19 games with the Houston Astros. They sure did that on Friday. Oakland clobbered the Astros into submission with a 8-3 win that was lopsided in every way imaginable.
There is no mercy rule, but if there was, it would have come in handy during the 40 minute fifth inning in which the A's sent 13 batters to the plate and scored seven runs. The Astros made three pitching changes in that inning, and none of them seemed to do the trick.
Oakland has now won three games in a row.
At the Plate
Coco Crisp welcomed former A's prospect, now Astros starting pitcher, Brad Peacock to the Major Leagues in style. The veteran outfielder hit the fourth pitch he saw over the fence in right field for a leadoff home run. Crisp now has seven leadoff homers with the A's, and is three shy of catching Bert Campaneris, who is second on the A's all-time list.
Crisp also sent Peacock packing with a fifth inning one-out double. After Crisp reached base, Astros' manager Bo Porter made a curious decision and took his starter out and put in left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno.
Cedeno walked Jed Lowrie and Josh Reddick to bring Yoenis Cespedes to the plate with the bases loaded. Cespedes ripped a ball that clanked off shortstop Marwin Gonzalez' glove, scoring two runs. It was ruled an error, so Cespedes didn't get any RBI.
John Jaso stepped to the plate next and reached on a safety squeeze, scoring Reddick, who barely avoided catcher Jason Castro's tag with a headfirst slide. Cedeno then walked Chris Young, gave up a two-run single to Donaldson, and hit Eric Sogard with a pitch before leaving the game. Crisp then hit his second double of the inning, scoring Young and Donaldson and giving the A's an 8-0 lead.
Starting Pitching Report
Houston Astros batters entered Friday leading Major League Baseball with 43 strikeouts. A's starting pitcher Dan Straily helped them maintain their record-setting pace. The A's righty ripped through the Astros lineup with a career-high 11 strikeouts of his own.
Straily turned in one of the finest pitching performance of his big league career. He allowed two runs on five hits while matching a career-best with 6 2/3 innings. When Straily's fastball command is working he is very effective. He had it on this evening.
He was pulled from the game with 102 pitches in the seventh inning.
Pat Neshek relieved Straily and allowed his inherited runner to score on a single hit by Matt Dominguez. He gave up two hits and walked a runner to load the bases before Melvin came and got him. Chris Resop entered the game next and got Brett Wallace to fly out to end the inning.
Evan Scribner pitched two scoreless innings to finish the game.
In the Field
Crisp made a diving attempt on a ball hit by Carter in the first inning and missed. He landed hard on his stomach and it looked like he might have gotten the wind knocked out him. It took him a moment to collect himself, but he remained in the game.
Bartolo Colon returns from his 50-game performance-enhancing drug suspension to start against the Astros on Saturday. Colon topped out at 94 MPH against the Giants in his last outing of the exhibition season.
If Colon can maintain his velocity, it is likely he'll have success this season. He threw his fastball 89.2 percent of the time last season. He mixes four-seam and two-seam fastballs to keep hitters off balance.
"His velocity is still there, his stuff all looks the same," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
The Astros modified their starting rotation. Bay Area native, Bud Norris, will pitch on Saturday with Lucas Harrell taking Eric Bedard's spot. Since Peacock, Norris and Harrell are all righties, Melvin made a late change and added Chris Young to the lineup on Friday.