With the A’s having a chance to win a series against Houston, this is not something that is supposed to happen. Not now, no way.
The thing is, Oakland is not going to the playoffs this year. Spoiler. But does that matter, today, the 12th day of September 2023. Not really. What matters is what the A's did, right now, tonight.
JP Sears has had his share of problems from the mound. Giving up 31 HR’s but pitching in 32 games. JP Sears has shown that he can stay healthy but can he stay smart. His first pitch Strike percentage is 64.2% with an off-speed plus pitch. But the trouble with Sears has been ensuring that he does not let that off-speed pitch does not become plus speed off the bat. So far, it is fair to say that this season, he has not but over his last 2 starts he has. 2-0 with 0.82 ERA and ZERO HR allowed.
Justin Verlander has posted lifetime 20-7 record against Oakland. But who cares about that, now, tonight. Verlander did not start clean or look that sharp. Zach Gelof led the charge by hitting an opposite field 2b misplayed but Kyle Tucker that hit his glove then the wall. Ryan Noda knocked him in 2 pitches later. Gelof always hits RH pitching better than LH. And then bouncing back-to-back balls against Seth Brown. And then Shea Langeliers hit a Homerun (19) almost out of the close roofed stadium, over the train, that is still waiting to land.
Shea Langeliers continued his hot streak with 9 HR and 20 RBI last 15 games.
What we care about is what is JP Sears’ record against Houston, tonight, now. JP did not start clean. Starting with an infield single and then bunt by Yordan Alvarez and walk to Alex Bergman. Loading the bases with Kyle Tucker and then fielders choice ground ball to first, scoring Altuve. And then threw a gorgeous slider down and in to get a half hearted, confused whiff by Jose Abreu. Maybe his best pitch in the past several games.
The next inning was more of the first in terms of pitch selection. 2 Seam fasts ball tailing out of the zone followed by breaking balls over the plate and black. The vast majority of pitches out of the zone were the same pitch, 2 seamers. Which shows two things, 1: Sears doesn’t quit 2: Maybe he does not know when he should. But here even in the 2nd inning it was time to face down one of the best hitters in baseball; throwing 10 pitches to Jose Altuve, foul ball after foul with Altuve working a full count. Sharp line drive to left field; out. JP won that round, tonight. But he paid for it. Totaling 47 pitches in his first 2 innings.
The Oakland bats kept swinging with Gelof getting his 18th double of the season and Seth Brown knocking him in with a double of his own. Now – 4-1, Oakland. His 30th extra base hit of his rookie 2 month old career.
Both teams went down in order in the 4th with a perfect pitch on the black striking out Alvarez.
Leading off the top of the 5th Tony Kemp first pitch home run. Sears wanted out attention back. After back to back hits Altuve hit a lofted line drive that JP Sears caught over the shoulder half way to 2nd base and then wheeled and fired a sidearm strike to 1st base doubling up Maldonado - 1-3 double play.
Pena hit a left field double to score a run. Sears came back to strike out Alvaerz, again, this time swinging. Now, 5-2.
Come the bottom of the 7th - it was still 5-2. JP Sears' night was over. With 3 hits 2 Walks and 2 ER. 83 pitches - 56 strikes. Who could ask anymore? Luis Erceg came on and gave up a harmless double striking out Altuve on a 99mph fastball right down the middle, swinging. Now, tonight, JP Sears outdueled Future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, who gave up 5 ER and 8 hits.
Ryan Noda got hit by a pitch leading the 8th (for the 10th time this year. OBP?) and Seth Brown promptly drove him home with a cue ball double down the left field line. Now, 6-2.
Danny Jimenez came in the bottom of the 8th and left as quickly as he came in striking out 2. One looking, on a NASTY backdoor slider and the other swinging to Alex Bergman, right over the heart of the plate.
We find ourselves in the bottom of the 9th. Now. Tonight. Leading the baseball club with the 3rd highest payroll in baseball. The club that chased down the Rangers and catching them to take the lead in the AL West.
Trevor May took the ball and did not give it back.
Tonight. Now. The Oakland Athletics, the worst team in baseball, with the lowest payroll, 5 rookies facing a future Hall of Famer in Houston. It does not matter. What matters is what just happened. Now. The A's beat the Astros.
Final Score 6-2.