The timing really couldn’t have been better for the Houston Astros to resurface on the A’s schedule.
With a three-game sweep at the hands of Texas still fresh in their memories, the A’s arrived at Minute Maid Park and administered a 10-1 smackdown on the Astros in the opener of a four-game series.
Josh Donaldson hit a pair of two-run home runs in a game that also featured a renewal of bad blood between the teams over an incident that happened last weekend in Oakland. Houston reliever Paul Clemens was ejected in the top of the seventh for hitting Jed Lowrie with a pitch, apparently continued retaliation from Friday’s game at the Coliseum, when Lowrie bunted with Oakland leading 7-0 and Clemens threw a pitch between his legs. Astros manager Bo Porter came out of the dugout and gestured at Lowrie after that incident, and Lowrie was critical of Porter in his postgame comments that night.
Another development to monitor closely: A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes left the game in the top of the seventh with an apparent leg or foot injury after legging out an infield single. He was replaced by pinch runner Josh Reddick, and his status wasn’t immediately known.
The A’s finished with 14 hits to begin this 10-game road trip on a high note.
Starting pitching report
Pitching in his hometown, A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir (3-0) was not sharp early on. He fell behind in the count and walked in his only run in the first. But he settled in after that, going six innings and allowing just the one run on five hits. Kazmir struck out seven and walked two, and he’s allowed just six earned runs over his first five starts.
Dan Otero and Drew Pomeranz carried the baton to the finish line with relative ease.
At the plate
It was a big night for a couple of the big bats near the top of Oakland’s lineup. Lowrie singled and doubled twice in his first four at-bats, finishing 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs. Donaldson provided the A’s first multi-homer game of the season and finished 3 for 4 with three runs and four RBI. Alberto Callaspo also had a two-run homer and Craig Gentry had two hits and two runs.
In the field
Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer (0-4) endured an off-night, but he wasn’t exactly helped by his defense durng his short stint either. He should have been out of the second when he got Nick Punto to hit a tailor-made double-play ball, but shortstop Jonathan Villar couldn’t handle the grounder cleanly and only got the force at second. That allowed Coco Crisp to bat, and Crisp blooped a single to right that scored Craig Gentry that gave Oakland a 3-1 lead. An error from left fielder L.J. Hoes contributed to the A’s two-run fifth that opened up an 8-1 lead. Houston third baseman Matt Dominguez even accomplished the rare double-error play, mishandling Craig Gentry’s grounder and then sailing a high throw way over Jesus Guzman’s head at first to send Gentry to second, though that play didn’t cost the home team a run.
Good things might be on the horizon for the Astros given their stacked farm system, but Thursday’s five-error performance shows there’s still a long way to go.
After picking up his first victory in his last start against Houston, Jesse Chavez (1-0, 1.38) gets a rematch with Brad Peacock (0-2, 6.14) in Friday’s 5:10 p.m. contest.