The Oakland Athletics have a good thing going right now, and despite some early struggles Tuesday night from starting pitcher A.J. Griffin, they came up with the plays they needed to record a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
Griffin struggled with his control early, getting out of a jam in the second and giving up two runs in the third. Marwin Gonzalez led off the inning with a double, and Jose Altuve swung on the first pitch he saw in the next at-bat and drove a line drive to right field to put baserunners on first and third with no outs. Justin Maxwell then drove a hanging curveball to left field to score Gonzalez, and Chris Carter scored another run when he singled to center field to score Altuve and make it 2-0 in favor of Houston. After walking Carlos Pena in the next at-bat, it looked like it was going to be a long inning and a long night for Griffin.
However, the young right-hander was successful in limiting the damage. He struck out J.D. Martinez for the second out of the inning, and Shane Peterson made a great play at first base to contain a shot down the line from Rick Ankiel and retire the side. From then on Griffin settled down, retiring the next 11 batters he faced and leaving after the sixth with eight strikeouts and four hits allowed.
Oakland answered back in the bottom of the fourth when Chris Young drew a two-out walk and was able to manufacture a run by stealing second, third, and then home on a wild pitch by Brad Peacock. They added two more in the fifth to make it 3-2 in favor of the A’s. Eric Sogard doubled with one out and came home on a Coco Crisp triple that bounced off the wall in right field. After walking John Jaso, Peacock’s night was over, and Seth Smith hit a curveball off Houston reliever Dallas Keuchel in the next at-bat to score Crisp for the go-ahead run.
It would remain a one-run game until the top of the eighth, when Pena hit a fastball over the wall in the left field corner off of Sean Doolittle to tie the game with two outs. It was the first run that Doolittle has surrendered this season, and he quickly struck out Martinez to end the inning.
After Keuchel struck out Jed Lowrie for the first out of the bottom half of the inning, right-hander Rhiner Cruz came in for Houston and got Chris Young to fly out to center field, and it looked like there was going to be extra innings at a sparsely occupied O.Co Coliseum.
Josh Reddick drew a two-out walk, however, and Josh Donaldson got to be the hero for the second time in less than a week as he caught a fastball off the end of his bat and dropped it just inside the foul line in right field. Ankiel’s unsuccessful dive for the catch allowed Reddick to score from first, and Donaldson would get a triple to put the A’s up 4-3 on what would end up being the game-winning RBI. Balfour only needed 11 pitches to close out the ninth, and the A’s headed to the locker room with their eleventh win of the year — the most in the American League.
Tomorrow’s game will start at 12:35, with Bartolo Colon going against Bud Norris to try for the second Oakland sweep against the Astros. The contest will not be televised, but you can catch it on 95.7 FM The Game on radio.
Some noteworthy stats and observations from Tuesday’s game:
-Eric Sogard was a home run short of the cycle and was 3-for-3 on the night, hitting in the ninth spot in the order for the A’s. Sogard is now hitting .297 on the season after hitting .444 with nine RBI in spring training.
-The three triples recorded by Oakland matches a franchise record. It’s happened seven times in franchise history.
-The A’s stole four bases Tuesday night, and they now lead the Majors with 15 on the year.