The Oakland A’s offense battled late, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a tough start by Bartolo Colon, as the Athletics fell to the Houston Astros 5-4 in Game one of a three-game series.
The Houston offense didn’t hesitate to jump all over Colon, despite his All-Star season so far. Jason Castro walked to lead off the second inning, and after Matt Dominquez doubled, Brandon Barnes doubled them both home. The Astros would add on in the third inning, when Robbie Grossman and Brett Wallace lead off the inning with back-to-back singles. Jose Altuve lined out, allowing Grossman to move to third, and Grossman came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Castro. Christ Carter then doubled home Wallace to give Houston a 4-0 lead.
Despite their last-place status, the Astros added one more run in the fourth inning. Barnes led off with a double, L.J. Hoes singled to put Barnes at third base, and Barnes came home on a double play ground-out by Jonathan Villar to make it 5-0.
Even though he’s had a great season so far Colon really struggled on Tuesday night, only getting through four innings on 77 pitches. He allowed seven hits, five earned runs, and only struck out three. He’s now allowed four or more earned runs in his last two starts after not allowing more than three earned runs in his previous 15 starts. Manager Bob Melvin isn’t quite ready to be concerned about Colon, but he’s getting there.
“The guy’s been really good for us this year, and he’s had a couple of starts where the velocity hasn’t been as good, but it looked like it was back up a little bit today. But, we’ll see going forward.”
Oakland made a bit of noise in the fifth, managing to get on the scoreboard. Josh Donaldson led off the inning with a triple and, after a Seth Smith walk, came home to score on a double play ground-out by Stephen Vogt.
But this was all that the A’s offense could manage against Astros starter Jordan Lyles. Lyles dominated Oakland, needing just 99 pitches to get through seven innings. He gave up five hits, but only one run and walked two while also striking out three.
It looked like Houston would cruise to a win, but despite a strong outing from their starter, the Astros bullpen faltered in the eighth. With two outs, Jed Lowrie singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch by Josh Zeid, and moved to third on an error by Zeid. Josh Reddick then singled him home before Yoenis Cespedes collected his third hit of the night, a two-run home run over the fence in left field to make it 5-4.
The green-and-gold almost pulled off the comeback when Vogt walked with one out in the bottom of the ninth and Chris Young crushed a ball down the left-field line. The umpires reviewed it but stood by the call that it was a foul ball, and Young struck out on the next pitch. It was all-too-familiar territory for Melvin – after an Adam Rosales ball that was clearly a home run was ruled a double earlier this season – and he just wanted to make sure the play was reviewed.
“I just wanted to take a look, because we’d been down that road before, and I think there’s just a lot at stake in that particular play, and he felt like he was 100% sure…I just felt like as close as it looked from us and the reaction from everybody at least would suggest a look, and I appreciate that they went and looked at it.”
The A’s are now 11-12 since the All-Star Break and are a 1/2 game behind the Texas Rangers for first place in the American League West.