Frankie Montas got back on track in the first game of the doubleheader against the Astros, pitching five innings, giving up two runs, and getting the win in a 4-2, 7-inning victory. If the A’s are going to go anywhere in the playoffs this year, getting him straightened out and pitching his best is imperative. The bullpen anchors this year, Jake Diekman and Liam Hendriks, nailed down the victory.
Also getting back on track in the first game was Khris Davis. He homered and doubled, each time taking an outside fastball, the kind of pitch he had been missing all hear, and driving the ball to the opposite field.
I wouldn’t get too excited about that, though, because in the second game he was back doing another thing that’s been messing him up, namely chasing sliders down and away out of the zone. It’s good that he’s finally hitting the pitches to hit that he’s getting, but he still needs to stay in the zone with his swings. So consider that a split victory, in a sense.
Matt Chapman missed both games, as did Stephen Piscotty, but Marcus Semien was back and played in the first game. He went 0-4, but played good defense behind Montas. In the second game, the absence of both their normal left side infielders basically cost them the game. The Astros scored their winning run in the seventh and final inning, which was initiated by a miscommunication between Chapman and Semien’s replacements, Chad Pinder and Vimael Machín. A ground ball was hit between them, and they almost ran into each other trying to field it, resulting in Machín bobbling the ball for an error. A bunt single, a walk, and a sac fly later, the Astros had their winning run.
I wasn’t expecting much from Mike Minor in the second game, but he wasn’t bad for three innings. Things got away from him in the fourth, however, with a couple of singles, a walk, and then a HBP. He was replaced leading 4-1 by Yusmeiro Petit, who was uncharacteristically wild. He walked in two runs, and then allowed another on an infield single to tie the game 4-4. All four of those runs were charged to Minor, but it was actually the bad outing by Petit that was more to blame.
So, a day of mixed results. A good starting pitching outing, and a shaky one. A good bullpen performance, and a bad one. Some good hitting, and some struggles. Some good defense, and some mistakes. Some injuries, and some return to health. But given the lead the A’s have in the division, splitting their outcomes between wins and losses should be all they need to cruise into the playoffs.