The Oakland A’s picked up right where they left off from 2013 with regards to the Houston Astros. After winning 15 of their 19 contests last season, the A’s took game one of the weekend set against their American League West division rival Friday night by the lopsided score of 11-3.
Houston starter Jarred Cosart was wild in the first inning, walking four batters and allowing three hits — two of them homers to Alberto Callaspo and Josh Reddick — in just 1/3 of an inning before being removed in favor of the bullpen. To call it a rough outing for the young Astros pitcher would be an understatement. He watched his record fall to 1-2 and his ERA balloon to 7.36 thanks to the seven earned runs that he surrendered.
Oakland got the scoring started quick in the first inning. Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss all walked, with only Jed Lowrie recording an out on a fielder’s choice in the A’s first four batters. Yoenis Cespedes singled to center field to bring home Lowrie and Donaldson. Callaspo homered one batter later for a three-run shot to bring home Moss and Cespedes and push the score to 5-0.
Following a John Jaso walk, Josh Reddick hit his first homer of the season and brought the first inning scoring to it’s seven run total off Cosart.
“That’s one of our better attributes, making guys work, similar to a boxer, some body blows and sooner or later you end up doing some damage,” said manager Bob Melvin. “That’s’ something we stress and, to an extent, the team is put together that way.”
The A’s tacked on a run in the bottom of the second inning when Cespedes connected for his fourth homer of the season, the A’s third of the night, off of Paul Clemens.
Crisp also touched Clemens for a homer, Oakland’s fourth, in the bottom of the fifth inning for a two-run blast to give the A’s a 10-3 lead at that point of the game.
With the bases loaded in the seventh inning, Josh Donaldson drew a walk to bring home John Jaso and give the A’s their final run of the evening and cap the 11-3 victory.
Sonny Gray improved to 3-0 on the season, pitching six innings and allowing three earned runs on nine hits and two walks. He struck out four. Fernando Abad pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two and Ryan Cook pitched a scoreless ninth inning, walking two batters and recording all three outs via strikeout.
It wasn’t Gray’s best performance at all, but the A’s offense had staked him to an early lead that allowed him to work with a wide margin of error.
“We’ve had trouble scoring runs early recently,” said Melvin. “Mid-to-late games, we’ve been getting really good at-bats, but at the beginning we haven’t looked so good, so to get out to a good start today was real good, Reddick in particular.”
As Melvin pointed out, Reddick had a particularly encouraging game, going 3-for-4 on the day with a pair of singles to go along with his first inning homer. Cespedes also collected three hits on the night, going 3-for-4, and Crisp chipped in a pair to finish the day 2-for-3 with a walk.
The A’s and Astros square off in the second game of the series Saturday afternoon at 1:05PM on an afternoon that the Athletics will give away Josh Donaldson bobbleheads to 20,000 fans. It will be Scott Kazmir facing off against Brett Oberholtzer.