Recap: Astros @ A’s Game 15
Wrap: Oakland 4, Houston 3. A’s 11-4 (1st Place, 1 1/2 games ahead)
The A’s keep on rolling against Houston. So many times teams get screwed and blow a season by losing to teams they ought to have won against. Take for example the 1995 California Angels, a team interesting for several reasons including just how left-handed their starting rotation was, but a team that went 4-9 against the 71-73 Orioles. If the Angels had managed just a 5-8 record, or even better they avoid that one-game playoff in Seattle against Randy Johnson and perhaps baseball in Seattle is doomed forever. But instead the Angels couldn’t take care of business against the Orioles (or the A’s or Royals other sub .500 teams the Halos couldn’t muster a winning season against) and the 1995 squad is forever forgotten by history. The A’s should beat Houston and the A’s are doing it. That is a good thing.
Lineup is a bit different. Despite Reddick’s early struggles still don’t like him hitting there behind Young (who also has has some early struggles himself). The two went a combined 1-for-6 with two walks and a K so maybe I do know something? Sogard was the batting champion in this one, going 3-for-3 with a double and triple adding a stolen base on for good measure. He was the only Athletic to get more than one hit. Jason Castro of the Astros however had a ton of trouble holding runners on as Young stole two bags off of him (both also coming off of Peacock), Reddick stole one off him and Peacock and the aforementioned Sogard swipe off of him and Dallas Keuchel. Club went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position stranding a total of seven runners.
Griffin looked really good. The complaint I’ve had about low strikeout totals being wholly unsustainable as a method for success was thrown out the window in this ballgame as Griffin went six allowing two earned runs on four hits, walking four and K’ing eight. He was not terribly efficient with the pitches hurling 106 of them, but Griffin had a good 2.42 FIP in this one care of the increase in K’s. On the 2013 campaign he is keeping up some numbers that looked as though they’d be tough (or impossible) to match from 2013, his BABIP (.250, last year .264), strand rate (83.3%, last year 81.3%) both seem to figure to change at some point. That said he is still striking out fewer (5.9 K/9, last year 7.0 K/9) and walking more guys (3.2 BB/9, 2.1 BB/9 last year) this season (the home runs are dramatically lower though this year at 0.5 HR/9 to last year’s 1.1 HR/9) yet showing a greater level of success. I’m starting to become a believer in Griffin. Cook looked good in his outing as did Doolittle aside from an opposite field home run surrendered to Carlos Pena. However that Pena home run was a significant one as it tied the game and is the reason Doolittle walked away with a win. Balfour pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for just his second save of the season.
The easy hero in this would be Donaldson who had a triple to right to win the game after Doolittle gave it away. But that triple was in many ways more of a Rick Ankiel misplay (it seemed a catchable ball, now granted not an easily catchable ball but a catchable one nonetheless) than the prowess of Donaldson. Therefore, in what may be a first (well no, it is a first in the short hero/zero history) the hero goes to 0-for-4 with two strikeout Peterson who made his MLB debut subbing for the paternity leave missing Brandon Moss. The score was 2-2, Ankiel was up and the bases were loaded. Griffin needed an out and Ankiel ripped one down the first base line that Peterson dove and caught to end the threat. That catch saved two runs at least. Ankiel had a catchable ball, Peterson did not but he caught it anyway. That is the definition of hero.