OAKLAND COLISEUM — The A’s proved that they could win even without dominating offensively, coming from behind Tuesday night to beat the Houston Astros 4-3.
Oakland is now 11-4 on the season and off to their best start in 23 years.
In front of an announced crowd of 11,038, Oakland starter A.J. Griffin didn’t have his best stuff. Griffin walked Chris Caster and Carlos Pena to lead off the top of the second, but managed to keep the Astros off the scoreboard. That wouldn’t last long.
The Astros got on the board in the third, when Marwin Gonzalez doubled to lead off, and Jose Altuve would follow it up with a single. Justin Maxwell would get Houston on the board with an RBI base hit.
Two batters later, Carter would single home Altuve for the Astros’ second run of the night.
After walking Pena for a second time to load the bases with only one out, Griffin hunkered down to strike out J.D. Martinez. Shane Peterson, making his Major League debut, would spear a line drive off the bat or Rick Ankiel for the final out of the inning.
Peterson’s diving stop might have just been the spark Griffin needed. Griffin raved about Peterson’s play after the game:
A’s pitcher A.J. Griffin
“The player of the game today, in my opinion, is Shane Peterson, making that diving catch, bases loaded right there … to just come up huge in that situation, make that play, that’s the play of the game for me … it kept us in the game, and it made it so I was able to go out there and continue pitching.”
Griffin would settle in and not allow another base runner for the rest of the night.
For the remaining three innings, Griffin would throw just 36 pitches, compared to the 70 he offered up in the first three. Griffin would end up with 8 strikeouts, including retiring the side in the top of the sixth.
Oakland’s offense would finally kick in the fourth inning.
With two outs, Chris Young would single and promptly steal second base. Josh Reddick, returning to the line-up after a night off last night, would follow it up with a walk. After a double steal called by A’s manager Bob Melvin, Young would score on a wild pitch by Houston starter Brad Peacock, a former A’s prospect.
The A’s would capitalize on Peacock’s mistakes again in the fifth, eventually driving him from the game after 4-1/3 innings. With one out, Eric Sogard — who fell a homerun shy of the cycle — would double. Coco Crisp would drive him home with a game-tying triple. After Peacock walked Jaso, Seth Smith would finally give the A’s the lead with an RBI single.
That one-run lead looked to be safe until the top of the eighth, when Pena would crush a 1-1 pitch from Sean Doolittle over the left-field fence to tie the game yet again.
But the A’s would claw their way back into this game yet again.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Reddick would take his second walk of the game, and Josh Donaldson would drive him home to give the A’s a 4-3 lead.
Astros manager Bo Porter knows that the A’s are a team that refuses to quit:
“It’s the reason why they’re the defending champs in the division. I mean, you watch them play, they play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. And even when they get down, they’re gonna continue to fight all the way until the end.”
Grant Balfour pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to get his second save of the year.
The A’s are 11-4, which is the best record in the American League and second best in the majors behind at Atlanta at 12-1. … The A’s hit three triples, tying the Oakland record. … Eric Sogard recorded his first career three hit game. … Brandon Moss and his wife, Allison, had their second child today. Brody Dylan Moss was born at 3:42 p.m. … The Houston Astros have lost four straight games and are 3-5 on their current nine-game, 10-day road trip.