The Oakland Athletics hung seven runs on the Houston Astros in the top of the ninth inning Friday for a 12-5 win at Minute Maid Park in Houston, but the bad blood between the teams continues to simmer.
A night after Houston’s Paul Clemens was ejected for hitting A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie, Oakland left fielder Brandon Moss was hit twice in the ninth inning—the first time an Oakland player has been hit by pitch twice in the same inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Oakland reliever Fernando Abad plunked Astros catcher Jason Castro and home plate umpire Jordan Baker issued a warning to both benches. But Houston manager Bo Porter believes Abad should have been immediately ejected—the way Clemens was the night before—and Porter wound up being ejected in the discussion.
Never mind that Abad hadn’t thrown at Castro last weekend when the teams met in Oakland—a la Clemens at Lowrie. Bo Porter seems to have an “interesting” understanding about how baseball’s unwritten rules work.
The A’s (15-8) couldn’t hold an early 4-0 lead as starter Jesse Chavez gave up more than one earned run for the first time in five starts this season, but Oakland improved to 5-0 against the Astros (7-17) with the big ninth-inning outburst.
With the score tied 5-5, Moss led off the inning by being plunked by reliever Josh Fields (0-2). Alberto Callaspo singled to center to move Moss to second and Craig Gentry’s sacrifice bunt attempt was so well placed—and so poorly picked up by Fields—that it turned into a single and loaded the bases.
This is where the Astros made sure we all remember that they are, in fact, the Astros.
Daric Barton hit a smash at second baseman Jose Altuve, who deflected the ball into short right field with the infield drawn in. Right fielder George Springer bobbled the ball in right and was charged with the error that allowed Gentry to score all the way from first base on a ball that might have been hit 150 feet in total.
Nick Punto’s double moved Barton to third and chased Fields, with Anthony Bass coming on in relief. Coco Crisp grounded out to second, driving in a run to make it a 9-5 game, and Derek Norris lofted an RBI double to left. One out later, Josh Donaldson hit his seventh homer of the season to left field to cap the rally.
The next hitter, Moss, was hit by Bass on an 0-2 pitch.
Moss was in the lineup in left field in place of Yoenis Cespedes, who left Thursday’s game with a strained left hamstring. The A’s said Friday that he is day-to-day but the injury is not likely severe enough to land the third-year outfielder on the disabled list.
Oakland opened the scoring with four runs in the top of the second. Callaspo walked and scored on Josh Reddick’s triple to center. Reddick scored when Barton reached on an error by shortstop Jonathan Villar. After a single by Eric Sogard and a walk to John Jaso loaded the bases, Lowrie laced a single to right field than scored two.
Altuve had an RBU double in the third for Houston and Jaso had a sacrifice fly in the fourth after Astros starter Brad Peacock threw wildly on a pickoff attempt to allow runners to move to second and third.
The Astros tied it in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Matt Dominguez, a throwing error by Donaldson that allowed two runs to score and an RBI groundout by Castro.
Chavez worked five innings and allowed five runs—four earned—on eight hits with five strikeouts and two walks, with his ERA rising to 2.32. The A’s bullpen worked four scoreless innings, with Dan Otero, Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson (1-1) and Abad each recording three outs.
Donaldson continues to feast on Astros pitching. In five games, Donaldson is 8-for-19 with four homers and 10 RBI along with four doubles. He’s been a big reason why the A’s have outscored Houston 41-13 in their five meetings.