The Oakland Athletics are now 7-0 versus the Houston Astros in 2013, and outfielder Chris Young, a Houston native, has had a lot to do with that success. This game was shaping up to be one of the most frustrating losses of the season so far, but Young came up clutch when the A’s needed him the most, launching a 3-run blast to left field on a hanging slider from Astros closer Jose Veras. The home run gave the A’s a 6-5 lead that Grant Balfour would nail down for the victory.
Chris Young points to his family after his game winning 3-run homer in the top of the 9th. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
The story of this game was very much the same as the previous games in Arlington, many opportunities to score runs, many opportunities missed. The Athletics had Erik Bedard on the ropes in the top of the 1st inning, loading the bases with nobody out, but they would only be able to deliver two runs. Bedard would allow just those two runs in his 5 innings of work.
Meanwhile, Tommy Milone would cruise through the first four innings of the game, allowing a hit here and there, but suffering no damage. The 5th inning would be an entirely different story. After getting the first two outs without incident, the Astros got on the board when Matt Dominguez homered to left to make it a 2-1 game. Ronny Cedeno hit a well placed pop up that neither Eric Sogard or Chris Young were able to get to, and the inning began to snowball from there. An infield single and an RBI single by Jose Altuve would tie the game at 2. The big blow came off the bat J.D. Martinez in the form of a 3-run home run to put some distance between the Astros and the A’s at 5-2. Other than that inning Milone was very good tonight, and a couple of well placed balls go the other way and this inning never happens. Milone would last 7 innings, and his line of 8 hits, 5 ER, 0 walks, and 6 strikeouts doesn’t do justice to how well he really did pitch overall. He would get a no decision.
The A’s would inch closer when Seth Smith deposited a home run into the left field bleachers to the opposite field to make it a 5-3 game. Pat Neshek would give the A’s a scoreless 8th inning and get the win tonight. The real activity would come in the 9th inning.
John Jaso pinch hit for Adam Rosales to lead off the 9th inning, and he would draw a walk against Veras, Coco Crisp followed suit with a walk of his own, bringing up Chris Young with 2 runners on. Young’s home run was a surprise within the game, but it really should not have been considering Young’s past at Minute Maid Park. Young is hitting .418 for his career with 7 home runs and 27 RBI in 19 games there. Each time he plays there are somewhere around 50 friends and family members in the stands to cheer him on, and they could be heard. Without a doubt he loves playing for them.
With the pinch hitting of Jaso for Rosales in the top of the inning, the A’s were forced to do some rather unorthodox shuffling defensively in the bottom half. Jaso had to play first base, Brandon Moss moved to third, and Josh Donaldson shifted over to shortstop. For Moss and Donaldson, it was their first career appearances at those positions. The A’s are pushing the limits of the term versatility to say the least.
This marks the fourth straight series in which the A’s have won the first game, and they have won the previous two after taking game 1. The A’s will send out A.J. Griffin (4-3, 3.59 ERA) against Lucas Harrell (3-5, 4.63 ERA). Griffin has been strong this year overall, and this will be his first ever start in Houston.