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Recap: A’s @ Astros Game 7

April 7, 2013

Wrap: Oakland 9, Houston 3. A’s 5-2 (1st Place, 1/2 game ahead)

The A’s completed a three-game sweep of the visiting Astros which also at 5-2 made the A’s the best team in the American League ahead of the 4-2 Rangers, Red Sox, Twins and White Sox. The A’s have only lost once to the Astros and that came on June 12, 2007 in Houston. This is the second sweep by the A’s, since their first one: June 7-9, 2002. Hopefully the A’s can keep up their incredible level of success against Houston going.

The Bats

Lineup vs. Lucas HarrellCoco Crisp DH, John Jaso C, Josh Reddick RF, Jed Lowrie SS, Brandon Moss 1B, Chris Young CF, Seth Smith LF, Josh Donaldson 3B, Eric Sogard 2B.

I get the desire to possibly get Smith some reps in the outfield and the desire to keep a hot hitting Coco getting at bats but it seems to really be counterproductive putting Smith in left field with Crisp DH’ing. Not crazy about that though when you have messed up surpluses of similarly talented players I suppose you have no choice. Crisp going 2-for-4 with a home run and double doesn’t support my argument either. Nice seeing Lowrie in the four spot as he has earned that and kept it up going 3-for-5 with his third home run of the year to bring his mind-boggling numbers to .500/.567/1.000 with .642 wOBA and 319 wRC+ for 0.7 WAR. That said, the A’s scored early and often in this one. No complaints about anemic offense here. One has to wonder if this though is inflated “they are playing Houston” numbers. Just how bad is this Astros team? Smith got the A’s started in the second with a two-run double. Lowrie’s two-run home run in the top of the third gave them all the runs they’d need to win this. Regardless in the fourth Coco added his solo shot, in the fifth Young launched a three-run dinger before Houston even responded with their first runs in the bottom of the sixth. A Moss single in the ninth would add the A’s ninth and last run. A’s didn’t do so great with runners in scoring position (3-for-11) but the long balls carried them. The one concern however is that Yoenis Cespedes replaced Reddick on his scheduled off day when he hurt his wrist chasing a foul ball. Reddick is listed as day-to-day and hopefully it doesn’t become worse than that.

The Pitching

Appearances: Brett Anderson, Pat Neshek, Jerry Blevins, Evan Scribner.

Again we must question, is this “real performance” or is this “against the Astros” performance. Time will tell as we see just how bad this Houston team is. Right now they are not looking very good. They strike out at a startling rate. But the job of a Major League pitcher is not to pitch to the score (sorry Jack Morris and the Arizona Diamondbacks) the job is to pitch as well as you can given the competition you are facing and Anderson did just that. Six innings, no earned runs (two runs scored on a Lowrie error), five hits, two walks and ten strikeouts. Impressive. Neshek relieved Anderson and allowed a run on a hit, walking two and striking out two before Blevins and Scribner pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings each recording a strikeout apiece. Overall A’s pitching was working the K against the ‘Stros with 31 in the series, simply amazing, but we have yet to see if this is more of a reflection of Oakland’s talent or Houston’s futility.

Hero/Zero

The hero really has to be Anderson despite the fact that this was sewn up for him by the offense. The offense looked great, so Lowrie would get an honorable mention but his error also led to two-thirds of the Astros’ runs. Anderson did what he was supposed to do. He was fairly economical with his pitches given the high number of strikeouts (92), and just gutted this Astros team which is what he is supposed to do. There is a lot to be said for accomplishing what you are supposed to accomplish as so many players fail to do that. That Anderson did that earns him the nod as this game’s hero.

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