The A’s suffered a loss Monday that featured a couple costly defensive miscues, some squandered offensive opportunities and a starting pitcher leaving because of an injury.
That’s not the kind of script that leads to success, and unfortunately for the A’s it’s not the first time such a scenario has played out in 2016.
The Astros, scrapping to keep pace in the American League Wild Card race, rang up a 6-0 win in the opener of this three-game series at Minute Maid Park.
Oakland mustered just four hits and couldn’t carry over the momentum from a seven-run output in Sunday’s series-clinching victory at St. Louis. Third baseman Ryon Healy committed back-to-back errors that contributed to Houston’s two-run second inning that gave the home team all the runs it would need.
A’s starter Sean Manaea departed in the fourth inning with what was diagnosed as a strained muscle in his upper back. There was no immediate word on the seriousness of the injury.
Starting pitching report:
Manaea wasn’t helped by the Healy errors, both of which came with two outs and put him in a bases-loaded situation. But the rookie left-hander didn’t help himself when he followed up by issuing consecutive walks that forced in the game’s first two runs. It wasn’t apparent to the naked eye when exactly Manaea injured himself prior to leaving.
Chris Smith did well when called upon on short notice, eating up 2 2/3 innings. He allowed Jose Altuve’s solo homer in the sixth. He struck out five after relieving Manaea. Smith started the seventh by giving up a double to Teoscar Hernandez, walking Jake Marisnick and giving up a single to George Springer. J.B. Wendelken relieved Smith and promotely gave up a two-run single to rookie Alex Bregman. Following a double play, Carlos Correa knocked in Springer with a single to right. All three runs were charged to Smith.
At the plate:
The A’s had their best chances in the fifth and sixth to jump back in the game. They loaded the bases in the fifth with one out, but Coco Crisp and Danny Valencia both went down on strikes. In the sixth, with the score still 2-0, Oakland put runners on the corners with one out but Yonder Alonso bounced into a 1-6-3 double play to douse that rally.
In the field:
Healy has impressed with the glove since coming up from the minors, but he had a rough night Monday. He mishandled Marwin Gonzalez’s bouncer to his right, then couldn’t come up with Teoscar Hernandez’s grounder to his left, opening the door to the Astros’ first scoring rally.
The Astros’ Collin McHugh (8-10, 5.01) has been very solid, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 14 of his past 18 outings. He’ll take the mound Tuesday with Kendall Graveman (10-8, 3.97) going for the A’s. First pitch is 5:10 p.m.