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Recap: A’s @ Astros Game 5

April 5, 2013

Wrap: Oakland 8, Houston 3. A’s 3-2 (2nd Place (tie), 1/2 game back)

The A’s played their first ever American League game versus their new division foe Houston Astros. The Astros and A’s have a lot of cross-pollination these days with the Astros club featuring a former Athletic as their manager, Bo Porter, and also tonight’s starter Brad Peacock, starting left fielder Chris Carter, starting designated hitter Carlos Pena and for a time in the minors at least starting third baseman Brett Wallace (recently acquired pitcher Travis Blackley is another former Athletic on the Astros). The A’s starting shortstop (Jed Lowrie) and first baseman (Nate Freiman) tonight are former Astros. Not much of a ballgame in this one and the Astros looked every bit as bad as they’ve been advertised.

The Bats

Lineup vs. Peacock: Coco Crisp CF, Lowrie SS, Josh Reddick RF, Yoenis Cespedes LF, John Jaso C, Chris Young DH, Josh Donaldson 3B, Eric Sogard 2B, Freiman 1B.

Coco really had the best night of anyone on the A’s, 3-for-5 driving in three and walking once, he got everything started with his leadoff home run off of Peacock. He later would add two doubles on the day. Jaso was really impressive too, he had a great safety squeeze in play with Reddick at third and laid down a perfect bunt between Xavier Cedeno and Jason Castro who couldn’t whip around and tag Reddick in time coming down from third making it 4-0 Oakland. Two hitters later Donaldson, singled to right field and Jaso went throuhg Mike Gallego‘s stop sign to score from second. Fun stuff from Jaso who I also am really liking along with Lowrie who at 1-for-3 kept up his streak of a hit in every game. Cespedes and Freiman were the only ones who didn’t get a hit in this contest. Cespedes did have that hard ground ball that Marwin Gonzalez booted but otherwise took some insanely long swings in his two K’s. Freiman looked good today despite the 0-for-5. He had some hard hits that just found gloves including a great catch by Rick Ankiel in right field. I am excited about his potential.

The Pitching

Appearances: Dan Straily, Pat Neshek, Chris Resop, Evan Scribner.

Straily looked great, yes he is pitching against Houston but he went six and two-thirds innings, allowed two earned runs (one an inherited runner that Neshek allowed across the plate), on five hits, walking nobody and striking out eleven. What’s that look like with some advanced stats that mean absolutely nothing because they are such a small sample size (but will likely be all we look at for a while as despite the outing Straily is sent packing to Sacramento tomorrow to make room for Bartolo Colon)? Something like this: 14.9 K/9, 0.0 BB/9, 0.0 HR/9 despite a .357 BABIP and 60.0% strand rate for a 2.70 ERA and -0.54 FIP. Neshek came in to relieve him and wasn’t much relief throwing 13 pitches with only five being strikes retiring no one walking one and allowing two hits. Resop cleaned up that inning before yielding to Scribner who pitched a solid eighth and then a shaky ninth giving up doubles to Castro and Matt Dominguez that net Houston one run. Overall A’s pitchers looked pretty sharp against this hapless Houston team tallying: 13 strikeouts, including a golden sombrero for (or would it be of?) Ankiel and hat trick for (of?) Wallace.

Hero/Zero

The hero probably should be Gonzalez. In the top of the fifth with the bases loaded, Cespedes grounded a ball off of Cedeno right to the shortstop Gonzalez for what should have been a 6-4-3 inning ending double play. Instead Gonzalez booted the ball and a seven run inning ensued turning it from a close 1-0 ballgame to a wide open 8-0 affair. That said, heros and zeros are only available to members of the A’s and it has to go to Straily. Straily is pitching against the Astros. Let’s not forget that. Entering tonight’s ballgame through three games Houston hitters had struck out  44.3% of the time as a team or 43 times. That is a crazy number. That said Straily still managed 11 strikeouts against for better or worse what is still officially a Major League team. Again his reward for a night like tonight? A demotion and free trip to Sacramento.

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