HOUSTON — The Oakland Athletics could think of no better way to erase the memory of a blowout loss to the Houston Astros than to turn things around on the AL West leaders on Tuesday night.
Matt Olson and Sean Murphy each homered twice, and the Athletics tagged Wade Miley for seven runs in the first inning and scored a season high in a 21-7 rout of the Astros.
After being blanked in a lopsided loss on Monday, Oakland recovered to win its seventh of nine and remained a half-game ahead of Cleveland for the second AL wild-card spot.
“It’s awesome to respond to — there’s no other way to put it — the [butt]-kicking that we got yesterday,” Olson said. “To be able to come back. We always know we can compete against these guys, and to do it in the fashion that we did today was nice.”
The Astros were coming off a 21-1 win over Seattle on Sunday and a 15-0 thrashing of Oakland on Monday in which they hit seven homers.
But on Tuesday, the A’s tied a franchise record with 25 hits and built a 7-0 lead in the first inning without an extra-base knock. They still ended up tying a season high with six homers after not hitting any in their previous two games. Their 25 hits were the most they’d hit since 1969.
Khris Davis hit Oakland’s first long ball in the second inning. Olson went deep in the third and added another homer in a six-run fourth that also featured blasts by Sean Murphy and Marcus Semien to push the lead to 17-2. The A’s set a franchise record for runs scored through the first four innings.
Murphy homered again in the fifth, and Semien added an RBI double.
“They executed pretty flawlessly, and they crushed the ball later in the game,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said.
All nine Oakland starters had at least two hits, and six players finished with three each. Olson and Murphy had three hits and four RBIs apiece and Davis and Semien drove in three runs each.
Olson has a career-high 31 homers this season, joining Mark McGwire (eight times) and Jason Giambi (twice) as the only Oakland third basemen to top 30.
The Astros got two homers each from George Springer and Martin Maldonado to give them a franchise-record 252 this season as their five-game winning streak ended.
Houston became the first team in the majors to score 20 or more runs in a game and allow 20 or more runs in a different game in a three-game span since Aug. 6-7, 1894, when the Brooklyn Bridegrooms did it, according to STATS.
The Astros are the third MLB team to have three straight games decided by 14 or more runs and the first since the 1800s when in 1876 the Chicago White Stockings had a streak of four such games and the Cleveland Spiders had three in a row in 1893.
Tanner Roark (10-8) yielded eight hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings for his third straight win.
After Miley (13-5) had allowed five runs without getting an out in his last start against Seattle, Hinch was asked before the game what he’d like to see from his left-hander this time.
“I want him to get an out,” Hinch joked.
Hinch certainly wasn’t laughing when one out was all Miley managed before he was pulled with the Athletics leading 6-0. Miley allowed seven singles and walked one before he was replaced by Cy Sneed. He was charged with seven earned runs, which tied a season worst. The eight hits Oakland piled up in the first inning tied a season high.
“A lot of cutters in and you can either beat it on the ground or you can try to stay inside it and hit it the other way,” Melvin said of his team’s approach against Miley. “Just not trying to do too much and the hole’s open at second and just trying to pass the baton on to the next guy.”
Miley took his first loss since June 17. In his previous tough start, Houston rallied to win in 13 innings.
He was at a loss as to why things have gone so awry after he pitched so well all season.
“I’d be lying if I said I’m not thinking, ‘What the hell is going on,'” Miley said. “[But] it’s just baseball, it’s a humbling game, I’ve just got to get back to work and try to get after it.”
Astros: SS Carlos Correa (sore lower back) is progressing, and if his next two days of rehabilitation go well, he will join Triple-A Round Rock for a rehabilitation game on Friday.
MARKING HIS SPOT
A day after Yordan Alvarez became the first Astro to hit a home run to the third deck at Minute Maid Park the Astros marked where it landed by painting the seat in the first row of section 337 orange.
It was the second of two homers he hit on Monday night to pass Carlos Correa for most home runs by a rookie in franchise history with 24.
ODDS AND ENDS
Davis hit his 20th homer on Tuesday to become the first Athletic with four straight 20-homer seasons since Eric Chavez had seven in a row from 2000-06. … Semien scored two runs to give him 107 this season, which are the most since Miguel Tejada scored 108 in 2002. … It was the third multi-homer game of Maldonado’s career and his first since 2017.
Oakland LHP Brett Anderson (11-9, 4.19 ERA) will pitch Wednesday against Houston’s Jose Urquidy (1-1, 5.33). Anderson allowed eight hits and five runs in five innings of a 10-6 win over the Angels in his last start but did not factor in the decision.
Nationals manager Martinez returning to dugout
Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez will be back in the dugout Friday after missing three games following a heart procedure on Monday, the team announced.
Martinez, 54, had a minor cardiac catheterization in Washington after experiencing chest pains during Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Braves. He left in the sixth inning and was taken to a hospital.
Bench coach Chip Hale managed the team during Martinez’s absence, with the Nationals winning one of three games in a series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Nationals have a 1-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the top wild-card spot in the National League.
The Nationals open a three-series with the Marlins in Miami on Friday.
Sources — Yanks’ German won’t pitch again in ’19
Right-hander Domingo German will not pitch for the New York Yankees again in 2019 following his placement on administrative leave under the joint MLB-MLBPA domestic violence policy, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney on Friday.
German had been placed on administrative leave Thursday following an incident that Major League Baseball learned about Tuesday morning, sources previously told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Despite the lack of a police report detailing the incident, MLB and the players’ union agreed the allegations against German warranted placing him on leave amid an investigation, sources said.
Under the joint domestic violence policy, a player can be put on administrative leave for up to seven days, barring a mutually agreed-upon extension between the league and union.
While the case is not settled administratively, sources told Olney that German will miss both the rest of the regular season and the postseason. The Yankees clinched the American League East with a victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
German, who is 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 143 innings, had been by far the Yankees’ most reliable starter and had helped mitigate the struggles of veterans in the rotation.
Manager Aaron Boone recently said he expected German to be a big part of the team’s postseason plans, but Boone said Thursday that the team needed to prepare for the postseason as if German wouldn’t be available.
“This is something that, baseball aside, this is a bigger issue, obviously,” Boone said. “When you hear the words ‘domestic violence,’ it’s one of those things that stops you in your tracks. I give Major League Baseball and the players’ association credit for doing their part in, several years ago, trying to be ahead of this and putting disciplinary action in place, hopefully being part of the solution to what is a problem in our society.”
Information from ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Marly Rivera and The Associated Press was used in this report.
Blockbuster matchups will rock the playoff races
There are only 10 days left in MLB’s regular season, but five playoff spots are still up for grabs. As the hunt for October comes down to a few huge late-season series, we’re about to find out who’s in and who’s out.
Here’s what we’ll be watching this weekend:
There’s still a lot to be decided in the NL playoff chase, with Cardinals-Cubs the big matchup, and Pirates-Brewers and Nats-Marlins also impactful series. Among the four teams fighting for three spots (NL Central, two wild cards), what single factor will have the biggest role in determining who’s in and who’s out?
Eddie Matz: Washington’s schedule. The Cards, Cubs and Brewers all play six games during the final week of the season. Meanwhile, thanks to having no off day and playing a makeup doubleheader, the Nationals are slated for eight games over the final seven days. That’d be tough sledding for any club, but especially so for the Nats, whose bullpen has about as much depth as a kiddie pool. It doesn’t help that Washington’s competition next week (the Phillies and Indians) is the toughest among this quartet of contenders. If the Nats manage to hang on and make it to the wild-card game, they certainly will have earned it. (But I don’t think they’re going to earn it.)
Sam Miller: The Brewers’ bullpen. The other three teams in the race all have relatively traditional workhorse rotations — each has four starters who will qualify for the ERA title, and the Brewers have none. Rather, like last year, their September success has come with the congealment of the bullpen, pieces picked up throughout the year, or shuffled into new roles, or simply peaking at the right time. This month has been the Milwaukee bullpen’s finest, with season-best walk and strikeout rates and a season-best ERA. That’s crucial: The Brewers’ rotation is built to go four or five innings per start — only two starters have gone deeper than that this month, only two have thrown as many as 90 pitches, and none has gone seven or thrown 100. Milwaukee showed us last year what a hot bullpen can do in short, urgent bursts, and they’re trying to do it again, with an almost all-new cast (plus Josh Hader).
David Schoenfield: I’m going with the Cubs’ offense — the one currently playing without Javier Baez and that just got Anthony Rizzo back after that sprained ankle — improbably he was on a scooter Wednesday and started Thursday. I mean, how far can Nico Hoerner carry this team on his back? The Cardinals and Nationals also have a little more margin for error, and the Brewers have the easiest schedule, so the Cubs have their backs up against the wall. They will also end the season with six games on the road — where they are a miserable 31-44 this season. They will also be reminded of how the offense tired down the stretch last year. Good luck, boys.
In the AL, the series to watch are Red Sox-Rays, Rangers-A’s and the interleague Phillies-Indians matchup (Sunday Night Baseball, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), with Tampa Bay, Oakland and Cleveland in the running for the two wild-card spots. Same question as above: What is the most important factor in the AL playoff race?
Matz: Healed hurlers. The A’s have welcomed back stud left-hander Sean Manaea and top prospect Jesus Luzardo. Reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell and early season breakout star Tyler Glasnow have returned to the Rays. Meanwhile, the Indians haven’t been quite as fortunate, as ace Corey Kluber remains sidelined and fellow right-hander Carlos Carrasco has been limited to six outs or fewer since coming back earlier this month. For a Cleveland team currently on the outside looking in, that’s suboptimal.
Miller: Caveat: Sometimes really good teams rest their players as they gear up for their playoff assignment, and sometimes really bad teams are, by September, hot or filled with great call-ups. But the schedule gap between the A’s and the Rays is about as wide as Oakland could hope for: The Rangers, Mariners and Angels have a combined winning percentage of .441, and half of their good players are out for the year. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays are a combined .535. (Cleveland’s opponents: .483.) Again, that’s not destiny. But baseball games are zero-sum affairs, and every ounce of quality your opponents have is as significant as whatever ounces you, yourself have. It makes it really unlikely the A’s could lose this by any method other than total collapse.
Schoenfield: The A’s lead the wild-card race and have that easy schedule, so I think they’re in. So I’m looking at the Rays and Indians and point to the Tampa Bay rotation … bullpen. As Eddie said, Snell and Glasnow just returned, but Snell went only two innings and Glasnow has gone two and three. That means Kevin Cash has to get a lot of work from his relievers in games those two start. It’s remarkable, really: Charlie Morton has been the only constant in the rotation all season. In the bullpen, keep an eye on Nick Anderson. Since he came over from the Marlins, he has pitched 18 innings, given up nine hits, struck out 35 and issued zero unintentional walks.
The Year of the Home Run continues unabated, with the Twins and Yankees on the verge of reaching 300 each. In five words (no more, no less), sum up your feelings on this season’s long-ball binge.
Matz: Triples are way more exciting.
Miller: Eras, not players, break records.
Schoenfield: It was fun at first.
PICK ‘EM TIME
Setting aside Thursday’s opener to the four-game Cardinals-Cubs series, which team will take two of three (or three of three) this weekend at Wrigley?
Matz: The Russell-less, Baez-less and Rizzo-less Cubs have been able to get by recently against mediocre competition. The Cards are far from mediocre these days. Therefore, I’ll take them.
Miller: Somebody should mention that the Cubs have been invincible at home this year, though I don’t really believe that’s likely to persist. Still, even regular, non-invincible home-field advantage is significant, and the Cubs are now past Jack Flaherty in this series and get to skip the resurgent Adam Wainwright. So I’ll take them against the three worst FIPs in the Cardinals’ rotation, without much conviction.
Schoenfield: The Cubs dig down and take two of three weekend games. Because Nico Hoerner. And because we want a four-way tie between the NL Central teams and the Nationals.
Among the players on the seven teams fighting for a playoff spot (Rays, A’s, Indians, Nationals, Cardinals, Cubs and Brewers), who will have the most total bases this weekend?
Matz: Drawing the Pirates for the final stretch of a pennant chase/MVP race is like getting the million-dollar question on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” when you have all your lifelines left. And your uncle is a writer on the show. And he just had dinner at your house and told you what the million-dollar question (and answer) was going to be for your upcoming episode. Sadly, Christian Yelich is not an option. So I’ll take Keston Hiura.
Miller: Baseball is weird and anything can happen, but drawing the Marlins for the final stretch of a pennant chase/MVP race is like getting a Final Jeopardy category on which you did your doctoral research. I’ll take Anthony Rendon.
Schoenfield: Funny thing, Nicholas Castellanos is playing these days like the baseball version of Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer. And speaking of the Daily Double, that’s what Castellanos hits every day. He’s only four doubles shy of becoming the first player since 1936 to reach 60 doubles.
TWO TRUE OUTCOMES
Home run hitters
Matz: Yordan Alvarez
Miller: Eugenio Suarez
Schoenfield: Jorge Soler
Matz: Yu Darvish
Miller: Shane Bieber
Schoenfield: Lance Lynn for the title
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