HOUSTON — Before you work on forgetting this first half from the A’s, they provided one last reminder Sunday of just how they’ve arrived at their 38-51 record.
Rookie Sean Manaea delivered a terrific start but was robbed of a victory when Ryan Madson blew his second save of the weekend. The Houston Astros would win it in the 10th inning, 2-1, when Danny Valencia's errant throw to first allowed Jake Marisnick to score from third with the game winner.
On a day the A’s got great starting pitching, they committed four errors and mustered just four hits, leaving the door open for an opponent to break their hearts. That summed up their first half perfectly — the failure all too often to get all components of their game working in unison on the same day.
They were on the verge of winning a pitcher’s duel and heading into the All-Star break having taken three of four from the Astros, who have the majors’ best record since May 23 (31-13). Instead, they digested one last tough-to-stomach defeat before scattering their separate ways for a four-day rest.
Runners were on the corners with two outs in the 10th when Carlos Correa chopped a grounder toward third. Valencia fielded the ball near the line and fired across the diamond. His throw pulled Yonder Alonso off the bag and Alonso couldn’t make a swipe tag, and the Astros began celebrating, as they earned a split of the four-game series.
Starting pitching report
Manaea finished the first half with the strongest outing of his 12 big league starts, blanking the Astros over seven innings. He struck out six, didn’t issue a single walk and held the Astros to five hits. All the more impressive was that he did with his defense committing three errors with him on the mound. Manaea stranded a runner in scoring position in five of his seven innings.
Madson’s late-game struggles against the Astros continue. He gave up Luis Valbuena’s three-run walk-off homer Friday and also allowed a game-winning hit in early June during the A’s last visit here. He entered Sunday with a 1-2 record and 9.82 ERA in five games against Houston this season. John Axford pitched a perfect eighth. But the winning rally came with Liam Hendriks on the mound.
At the plate
The scored nine runs in Friday’s loss and totaled just seven in the other three games. They had just one scoring rally Sunday, and that came in the sixth. Matt McBride, spelling Stephen Vogt behind the plate, led off the inning with a single. Coco Crisp bunted him to second and Marcus Semien brought him home with a broken-bat single to left. Third base coach Ron Washington made an aggressive call to send McBride, but Jake Marisnick’s throw went closer to the first-base dugout than to home plate.
In the field
Having gone a franchise-record 15 games in a row without an error, the A’s were charged with committed four of them Sunday, including two by Valencia. bobbled a grounder in the first, Semien couldn’t scoop a grounder in the sixth and Coco Crisp couldn’t field Evan Gattis’ single in the seventh, allowing Gattis to reach second. Then came the deciding play on VAlencia’s errant throw.
The announced turnout was 28,119.
The A’s will break for four days, as Stephen Vogt heads to San Diego for Tuesday’s All-Star Game and his 24 teammates will go their separate ways to recharge. They’ll return to the Coliseum and work out Friday afternoon before beginning the second half that night against the Toronto Blue Jays.