Add Bud Norris to the list of Houston Astros starting pitchers that have gotten roughed up early against the Oakland Athletics.
The Northern California native didn’t get a warm welcome home from the A’s, and the 28-year-old right-hander couldn’t navigate his way out of a rocky first inning as Oakland recorded five hits and drew three walks to open up a 6-1 lead after one inning of play.
John Jaso doubled to lead off the game, and he scored on a single to center field by Chris Young in the next at-bat. There’d be no let-up from there by the A’s, as a single by Seth Smith and a walk to Jed Lowrie loaded the bases, and after getting the first out of the inning on a Josh Donaldson flyout, Norris left a fastball waist-high over the middle of the plate that Josh Reddick fired to the right field wall for a two-run double to make it 3-1.
After Derek Norris drew an eight-pitch walk, it was clear that Bud Norris would be lucky just to get out of the inning, but a single from Eric Sogard in the next at-bat scored Lowrie, and a walk to Shane Peterson with the bases loaded made it 5-1 with one out. Jaso then tagged Norris for an RBI groundout in his second plate appearance of the inning, and that would end his outing as Xavier Cedeno came in and got Young to fly out to end the inning after 44 minutes of play.
Bartolo Colon shook off singles from Jose Altuve and Jason Castro and an RBI groundout from former Athletic Chris Carter in the first to only allow one hit over the next five innings. He left the game with Oakland ahead by six runs after the A’s loaded the bases on Cedeno in the fourth and scored a run on an RBI groundout by Lowrie, and it looked like they were going to cruise to their 12th win of the season with little resistance from the Astros.
Chris Resop didn’t fare as well, however, giving up three runs in the seventh before handing the ball off to Ryan Cook to close it out. Carlos Pena hit a one-out, solo home run off Resop to make it 7-2, and J.D. Martinez smacked a double to left, followed by a walk to Brandon Barnes, making it the most threatening spell from the Astros since the first inning. After Barnes stole second, Matt Dominguez put a ball in play to Donaldson at third, who threw the ball home to prevent Martinez from scoring. Houston would make up for it the next at-bat, when Marwin Gonzalez singled to center to score Barnes and move Dominguez to third, and Dominguez came home when Altuve hit a ball to right field to make it 7-4.
Cook and Houston reliever Hector Ambriz worked through the eighth without incident, and Grant Balfour came in to close things out in the top of the ninth. Astros manager Bo Porter brought in Rick Ankiel to pinch hit to lead off the inning, and it paid dividends when Ankiel homered to right-center field to make it 7-5. After Dominguez reached base on a single to left, Gonzalez hit a grounder to Shane Peterson at first, who went to second for the out, and the game ended when Altuve hit into a double play. It’s the third save of the season for Balfour.
The A’s are now 12-4. They’ve matched the 1990 A’s start of 12-4 after 16 games, and that season resulted in a trip to the World Series, where they lost to the Cincinnati Reds in four games. They’ll face Tampa Bay on Friday at 4:10 PST.