Game Result : Triggs and big power lifts A’s over Astros 2-1
HOUSTON – It was back to basics for the A’s Saturday night, terrific starting pitching and a couple of home runs bringing an end to a five-game losing streak. Andrew Triggs threw shutout ball for seven inning, striking out a career-high nine and Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis contributed the homers as Oakland turned back the American League-West leading Astros 2-1.
Triggs, now 4-1 with a 1.84 ERA, faced men in scoring position in the first, third and fourth innings, but came up with three strikeouts with runners in scoring position and got better as he went along, setting down the final 10 men he faced in order before turning the game over to the Oakland bullpen.
Sean Doolittle allowed a solo homer to Jose Altuve in the eighth, but Santiago Casilla pitched a scoreless night for the save.
The A’s, now 11-13, can climb back to within three games of the division leaders with a win in the Sunday series finale.
The Oakland offense, which has limped along at times of late, was going nowhere against Houston starter Joe Musgrove as he set down the first 10 batters he faced in order.
The 11th, however, was Lowrie, who jumped on a 3-1 pitch to carry it high and deep into the right field seats. His second home run gave the A’s both their first base runner and first hit in addition to a 1-0 lead.
Lowrie came up an inning later with the idea of adding to the lead. Chad Pinder was on second base with two out when Lowrie singled to right. Josh Reddick got to the ball quickly and the former A’s right fielder gunned a throw to the plate that just barely cut down Pinder.
Oakland bats went quiet again until the eighth inning when with Will Harris pitching in relief, Davis became the American League’s second 10-homer man with an opposite-field rocket to right. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge became the first AL player to get to 10 earlier in the day.
In his first start after being rocked for six runs in 4.2 innings against the Mariners last Sunday, Triggs was back to his form of his first three starts, although the first inning proved to be a challenge. Singles from Josh Reddick and Jose Altuve and a wild pitch had Triggs facing the heart of the Houston lineup with men on second and third.
He came back to strike out Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran, both swinging, to keep the game scoreless, and settled in nicely after that. A single and a hit batter got him in a spot in the third and in the fourth a cannonade of a throw from right fielder Jaff Decker triggered a double play that kept Houston in check.
In all, three of Triggs strikeouts came with men in scoring position and four came to end innings.
And he continued to dominate left-handed hitters. The first hit he allowed was to Reddick, a lefty, but none of the other four. In his five starts Triggs hasn’t allowed more than one hit to a lefty in any game. A year ago lefties averaged .277 against him. This year it’s .088 (4-for-45).
Sean Manaea probably will not land on the 10-day disabled list as the A’s once feared he might. Manaea threw on the side before Saturday’s game and came out of it feeling good enough that the A’s are backing off DL thoughts. “I’m feeling great right now,” Manaea said. “I feel like I’m ready to go out there and face hitters.” Manager Bob Melvin said the A’s are in a “wait and see” mode.
Jesse Hahn said he’s been able to recapture his 2015 mindset when pitching and feels more in control on the mound. “I’ve got a clean mindset going now,” Hahn said as he takes a streak of three consecutive quality starts into Sunday’s game against the Astros. “I struggled with that last year.”
Raul Alcantara, who’d been placed on the designated for assignment list earlier in the week, cleared waivers, which surprised the A’s a little, and was sent to Triple-A Nashville. Melvin said “we thought that there was a pretty good chance that we’d end up losing him. But it’s nice that we have him back. He’s struggled a bit at the big league level, but it’s good to have him back. We’ll need a lot of starting pitching depth over the course of the season.
With right fielder Matt Joyce dealing with a toe injury, Ryan LaMarre got a start in center field with Jaff Decker moving over to right. It’s a chance for LaMarre get a couple of starts back-to-back, because he would have been in the lineup Sunday against left-handed starter Dallas Keuchel anyway. And combined with Monday’s day off, the A’s are hoping Joyce will be ready to go come Tuesday in Minnesota.
Chad Pinder got a rare start at shortstop Saturday and Melvin said the plan would be to have him start at second base Sunday. Adam Rosales was hit in the finger by a pitch Friday and while he could play, Melvin wanted to give his current shortstop a day off. And he’s looking for a rest day for Jed Lowrie at second, which turns out to be a win-win for Pinder.
Early in the day, Adam Rosales and Stephen Vogt went into the Houston suburbs to one of the Sandlot Nation gatherings Rosales is organizing to encourage youth baseball.
Daniel Mengden threw 30 pitches in batting practice Saturday in the club’s extended spring training camp in Mesa, Ariz. as he rebounds from his right foot surgery earlier this year.
Felix Doubront, who had Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery 12 months ago, threw two innings in a simulated game in Arizona. The A’s are hoping the lefty will be healthy enough to join the bullpen in a month or two.
Chris Bassitt, another pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery, was scheduled to pitch in a simulated game Saturday night.
Rajai Davis, on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, continues to run without pain and Oakland expects to have him back on the roster Tuesday in Minnesota. Melvin said the A’s offense has been a little one-dimensional without Davis’ speed in the lineup.
Second baseman Joey Wendle, who started the season on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder, came off the DL Saturday after a six-game injury rehabilitation assignment with Nashville and the A’s optioned him to the Sounds. During the rehab he hit .364 with two doubles, a triple and three RBI.