Oakland, CA – The A’s have kicked off the second half of the season strong. Oakland scored five runs in the fourth and two of those runs were walked in. The A’s have won three of their four games since the All-Star break and continued their winning ways by beating the Houston Astros 7-4.
Kendall Graveman gave a strong performance improving to 5-0 in his last nine starts. He allowed seven hits, three runs (two earned), a solo home run in the fifth, one walk and had five strikeouts while throwing a career-high 112 pitches. The five-game winning streak is an on-going career high.
“I’ve got confidence in the sinker,” said Graveman. “I think everybody can tell, ‘He’s going to throw the sinker. He’s going to throw it both sides of the plate,’ and confidence in it means that I’m locating it better. I think that’s been the biggest key right now. I’m locating the sinker, it has a little bit more velocity and still has good movement. I think that really has been able to get me deep in ballgames.”
Oakland has committed at least one error in five consecutive games (nine total) to snap an Athletics franchise record streak of 15 consecutive games without an error. Khris Davis is 6-for-15 with four home runs and six RBIs in fur games since the All-Star break.
Collectively Oakland has hit eight home runs in four games since the break and have homered 11 times in the last seven games after tallying just two home runs over the previous six contests. The A’s are currently 3-1 on this 10-game homestand against Toronto (2-1) and Houston (1-0).
The Astros got on board early in the second when Luis Valbuena tripled and scored on
Colby Rasmus sacrifice fly making it a 1-0 game. Oakland tied the game bottom of the
frame. Marcus Semien singled and Yonder Alonso followed with a double RBI to tie
the game 1-1.
Houston took advantage of Graveman in the fourth. Carlos Correa doubled and Valbuena was issued a free pass. With two on, Carlos Gomez grounded to third baseman, Ryon Healy who bounced throw to first. Correa scored on an error extending the Astros lead 2-1.
A’s manager Bob Melvin had every right to challenge the call on the play. He argued interference as Healy had to avoid Correa who ran in is path to third base before scoring at home plate. Correa blocked Healy’s path and caused him to make an error throw to first.
“Two outs and two strikes and I think they sent eight hitters to the plate after that and we got beat by a big inning,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “It’s frustrating because we had four or five walks in that inning. They kept putting up quality at-bats, we couldn’t close the inning out and then they separated from us. It was tough to get back into it.”
By the third Stephen Vogt doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch which was Mike Fiers second wild pitch of the game. Semien walked and stole second. Alonso singled up the middle past second baseman Jose Altuve and scored in both Vogt and Semien to make it a 3-2 game. Healy then doubled and drove in Alonso to extend the Oakland’s lead 4-2.
After giving up a walk to Coco Crisp putting two on with two outs, Fiers night was done. Michael Feliz replaced him and issued a free pass to Jed Lowrie to load the bases. Feliz then walked Josh Reddick and Healy scored making it a 5-2 game. Healy has started each of the A’s four games at third base since being selected from Triple-A Nashville Friday.
“He really looks comfortable at a position that he has not played all that long,” said Melvin. “He looks like a fighter, whether it’s his at-bats or whether it’s going after ground balls. He isn’t afraid to go into the hole between short and third and try to get a ball. Few games in, looks like he’s got some tenacity to him.”
Danny Valencia was issued a free pass and Crisp scored extending Oakland’s lead 6-2. With the bases still loaded, Davis hit a fly ball to right field. What looked like a grand slam in the making was cut short by right fielder George Springer who robbed Davis of a home run by leaping off the wall to catch his ball.
The Asros scored two more runs, Martin Gonzalez took Graveman deep on a line drive to right field in the fifth. And Correa’s RBI double in the eighth was all of the offense the Astros could muster. Oakland added their insurance run in the seventh when Davis homered on a line drive to center field making it a 7-3 game. Davis recorded his 23rd home run of the season.
“I just touch the ball and it goes,” Davis said. “All I have to do is get ready on time and touch it.”
Notes – Tomorrow will be the A’s annual Root Beer Float Day, a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Floats are $3, with limited-edition Melvin-autographed mugs going for $25 and unsigned mugs with unlimited refills going for $15. The floats will be available for two hours starting at 5:05 p.m. in the Coliseum’s Eastside Club. A’s Manager Bob Melvin and players will be in attendance.