The Athletics have been one of the top five teams in the MLB in the last two seasons, but one team continues to give them problems they can’t solve: The Houston Astros.
In three straight games against the Houston Astros last weekend, the Oakland Athletics had a chance to either tie or take the lead in the seventh inning or later at Oakland Coliseum. And in three straight games, the A’s left runners in scoring position and surrendered big-time hits to the Astros, suffering a sweep at the hands of the AL West champs.
This series, it was the bullpen – which gave up six runs in 12 innings of work and saw Lou Trivino suffer the loss on both Friday and Sunday – and the offense, which scored only seven runs after hitting .283 and averaging 6.85 runs per game over their previous 13 games, that is most to blame.
It was yet another chapter in the Astros’ recent domination of the Athletics, the only puzzle in the league the A’s can’t solve.
Granted, the Astros have laid waste to most of the MLB in recent history, but so have the A’s: since the beginning of the 2018 season, Oakland is 8-19 (29.6% winning percentage) against Houston and 118-76 (60.8%) against the rest of the MLB. This year the A’s are 29-30, but only 1-7 against the Astros, the lone win coming in a 2-1 game at home on April 17.
Out of all 29 teams, they only have a losing record in that span to the Astros and the Rockies, who swept them in one three-game series in Colorado last summer.
The A’s have fared well against the other powers in the league, seeing winning records or an even split against the Dodgers (2-2), Red Sox (7-6, including Sean Manaea’s no-hitter in April 2018), the Yankees (3-3) and the Indians (7-5).
Likewise, since the beginning of last season, the A’s have only been outscored by three teams: Boston (51-52), Colorado (10-4), and Houston (157-98).
The Astros have done everything well in their contests with the A’s, but one thing, in particular, has stood out: Oakland has averaged 4.99 runs per game since the beginning of 2018 and 3.63 in the 27 games against the Astros.
Even without Dallas Keuchel, the rotation of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Brad Peacock and co. and the bullpen of Ryan Pressley, Roberto Osuna and Wade Miley have quelled the Green and Gold’s dominant offense.
With the Astros continuing to dominate on the mound, the A’s hopes of winning the AL West for the first time since 2013 seem unlikely (although they will be right in the thick of the Wild Card race).