Houston Astros

Last-place A's complete four-game sweep of first-place Astros

Last-place A's complete four-game sweep of first-place Astros


OAKLAND  — Astros ace Dallas Keuchel walked in two runs and hit a batter to force in another during a shaky sixth inning, and the Oakland Athletics completed a four-game sweep of Houston with a 10-2 victory on Sunday.

The Astros entered the day tied with Cleveland for the best record in the AL, but their pitching has fallen apart at the Coliseum. Oakland rallied from behind in each of the first three games of the series, including one in which Houston's bullpen brought in five runs with bases-loaded walks.

Keuchel (12-4) never had a lead in the finale. He had allowed only two runs over 21 2/3 innings in three games against the A's this season and was doing well again until the sixth, when he lost control and labored through a 40-pitch inning.

The left-hander gave up a leadoff single to Jed Lowrie, then walked three of the next four to push in the go-ahead run. Two batters after hitting Mark Canha with a bases-loaded pitch, Keuchel walked home another to extend Oakland's lead to 4-1 and end his day. Keuchel allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Oakland piled on against the bullpen with two runs in the seventh and four in the eighth.

Jose Altuve had two hits and J.D. Davis added a pinch-hit home run for the Astros. Houston was outscored in the four-game series 41-15.

The Astros frustrations boiled over in the fifth when Jake Marisnick was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Marisnick struck out looking twice and was upset the second time, angrily slamming his bat and helmet to the ground before getting thrown out by home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus.

Kendall Graveman (5-4) pitched five-hit ball over six innings and allowed one run for Oakland.

Matt Chapman, Ryon Healy, Boog Powell and Matt Olson homered as the A's completed their second four-game sweep this year. It's the second time in Oakland history that the team has swept a pair of four-game series in the same season.


Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh will skip his scheduled start Thursday because of a lingering fingernail issue on his pitching hand. Brad Peacock will pitch in McHugh's place. ... Juan Centeno is expected to miss a few days with a mild concussion after being hit in the facemask by Lowrie's swing Saturday.


Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (11-8) faces the Angels on Tuesday in his second start with Houston since being acquired from Detroit. Verlander is 6-8 lifetime against the Angels.

Athletics: Following a day off Monday, LHP Sean Manaea (10-9, 4.33 ERA) pitches against Boston in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday.

Rookies carry load as A's cap off their first doubleheader sweep since 1998


Rookies carry load as A's cap off their first doubleheader sweep since 1998

OAKLAND — The hits came from up and down the A’s lineup, the momentum seemingly transferring from one batter to the next.

It was surprising enough to see the A’s put a second consecutive shellacking on the Houston Astros during Saturday’s doubleheader nightcap. That they did it with seven rookies in the lineup made it all the more impressive.

Much has been made of the A’s young core of talent that’s now logging time on the big league roster. But the 11-4 pounding of the Astros in Saturday’s second game was the most tangible evidence yet of what this young group might be capable of moving forward.

“That was the plan (for the nightcap). We were gonna let the youngsters play, and we were gonna let them go too,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We weren’t gonna do a whole lot as far as pinch hitting. … We wanted to give them a game where they were all kind of together. They showed up and played really well, especially late in the game.”

Chad Pinder hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh, then added a monster opposite-field three-run shot in the eighth, when the A’s rallied for six runs all with two outs. Matt Olson connected on a 446-foot two-run shot earlier in the game. And Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect who largely has watched from afar as several of his Triple-A teammates have enjoyed success in the majors, tripled in the seventh to start the go-ahead rally and added a run-scoring single in the eighth.

Boog Powell hit leadoff in the second game and responded with two hits and three RBI, offsetting a dropped fly ball that went for an error. And, not to be overlooked, 24-year-old right-hander Daniel Mengden turned in six solid innings in his first major league start since June 3.

The A’s outscored Houston 22-5 in sweeping Saturday’s twin bill, giving the A’s their first doubleheader sweep since 1998 and scoring their most runs in a doubleheader since 1976.

“It’s really big for the confidence for our team going forward,” Pinder said. “(The Astros) are an incredible baseball team, as you guys have seen all year. We played some good baseball today and I think that’s something to build off of.”

The smile on Barreto’s face after the game showed how much it meant for him to contribute to such a victory. He was 0-for-7 over five games played, just two starts, since being recalled Sept. 1. He spelled Marcus Semien at shortstop for Saturday’s nightcap, and after going down swinging in his first two at-bats, he lined a shot down the right field line in the seventh and flashed his speed in motoring all the way to third. That kickstarted a two-run rally as Oakland overcame a 4-3 deficit.

“He’s an electric player. He’s gonna be an incredible player for a long time, and one of the best people you could play with too,” Pinder said. “… He should know that every single person in this clubhouse has the utmost confidence in him, because he is a huge piece of the puzzle moving forward.”

Barreto was happy to contribute to a victory that wrapped up a crowd-pleasing day at the Coliseum, and he was happy to do so with a group that he’s played so many games with in the minors in recent seasons.

“We’ve been playing together two years,” Barreto said through interpreter Juan Durado. “It’s great to be around them and get good results and get wins.”

New pitchers joining AL West don't make it easy for A's

New pitchers joining AL West don't make it easy for A's

SEATTLE — Mike Leake certainly wasn’t the biggest-name pitcher to enter the American League West in the past couple of days, but he means an awful lot to the postseason hopes the Mariners cling to.

The A’s gave the right-hander a rude welcome in the first inning Friday night, then they let him get all too comfortable in his Seattle debut. Leake lasted seven innings and held Oakland to just the two runs in a 3-2 Mariners victory that sent the A’s to their fourth consecutive loss.

With the postseason out of reach this season, the A’s are at least catching a glimpse of the shifting pitching landscape in the AL West. They got their first look at Leake in a Mariners uniform. A week from Sunday, if things hold with the Astros’ rotation, they’re likely to face their one-time postseason nemesis in Justin Verlander at the Coliseum.

Houston swung a headline-grabbing trade with Detroit to acquire the one-time MVP and Cy Young winner Thursday, just before the deadline to get players on a team’s roster and have them be eligible for the postseason.

The A’s will see lots of these guys in the coming seasons — Leake is signed through 2020 and Verlander through 2019. Then again, comparing Leake to Verlander is apples and oranges when it comes to awards and track records.

Leake entered Friday night having posted a 7.32 ERA over his previous eight starts. And the A’s looked primed to extend his misery. They opened the game with three consecutive hits — singles by Marcus Semien and Matt Joyce and a double from Jed Lowrie — in a two-run rally that put them up early.

But in a troubling recent trend, the A’s went silent with the bats after their one scoring outburst. They have begun this six-game road trip 0-4, and over those four games, they’ve put up runs in just four of 36 innings.

“We score a couple and then in the third, we get first and second with nobody out and hit into a double play,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Then after that, (Leake) started finding the corner a little bit more than the middle of the plate. He has a lot of movement on all his pitches and we knew that going in. We made him throw the ball over the middle of the plate in the first three innings, and then he got better after that.”

Seattle picked up a game on Minnesota for the AL’s second Wild Card spot. They trail by 3 1/2 games, but they also need to leapfrog four teams to catch the Twins. The Mariners hope Leake can help buoy a starting rotation that’s without Felix Hernandez and James Paxton probably until the middle of the month.

The A’s didn’t mount much after their two-run first. In the seventh, Matt Chapman’s double and a wild pitch from Leake put the tying run at third with one out. But Leake then struck out Boog Powell on a curve and then got Marcus Semien to chase a slider for strike three.

“They showed they were going to be pretty aggressive today,” Leake said. “So I had to make a pretty quick adjustment. I started locating my fastball. … One thing that’s been difficult for me is being able to put guys away. The fact I was able to do that tonight was nice.”

The silver lining for the A’s was Sean Manaea’s outing. He went 6 2/3 innings, his longest start since July 27, and allowed three runs. He also walked three and plunked Robinson Cano with a pitch, but Melvin was encouraged by Manaea’s stuff. His fastball, lacking its zip throughout August, touched 93 miles per hour and his secondary pitches were crisp too.

“The velocity was there, he had a sharp slider, which he hadn’t had for a while. Good changeup,” Melvin said. “… I think as far as his stuff goes, it’s the best we’ve seen in a while.”