Perhaps it’s fitting that a lightning storm was inching its way toward the Coliseum Thursday night.
Oakland starting pitcher Aaron Brooks (ND, 1-0, 2.41 ERA), whom the team acquired from the Royals for infielder Ben Zobrist, brought enough positively-charged ions to hold off the storm for just long enough, dominating the Astros for seven innings.
Said A’s manager Bob Melvin:
“(Brooks) pitched great, and that’s all you can ask from him. It would have been nice to reward him. … It’s tough, we’ve lost many games like that this year.”
Though it all went awry in the eighth as the Oakland bullpen took over.
The A’s lost by a score of 5-4 after rookie of the year candidate Carlos Correa smacked a two-run shot over the left field wall on a 2-0 pitch that Fernando Rodriguez threw right in the heart of the zone with 94 miles per hour of help behind it.
Oakland got their two runs across early, and, as has been common of late, got little more.
Both were solo home runs off Houston starter Scott Feldman (ND, 4-5, 4.46 ERA).
After Rodriguez was yanked following the go-ahead homer from Correa, Fernando Abad intentionally walked third baseman Jed Lowrie and allowed him to be singled in by outfielder Colby Rasmus. A rare error committed by Billy Burns in center field certainly didn’t help.
With a 4-2 score entering the final frame, and Oakland’s offense looking lifeless over the three prior innings, it didn’t seem promising for the A’s.
The A’s got a ninth inning rally going, though. Vogt drew a walk and Lawrie was able to get aboard with a hit, Vogt advancing on an error from Lowrie. With runners at the corners and no outs, Ike Davis singled to right, knocking in Vogt and Lawrie with clean pants at third base.
Outfielder Sam Fuld pinch-ran for Davis, and shortstop Marcus Semien stepped up. He took a beautiful breaking pitch down the pipe with two strikes, and was rung up as he bunny-hopped a few times as if he really wanted that one back.
Houston manager A.J. Hinch challenged the call, but it was upheld and knotted the score at 4-4.
But reliever Edward Mujica allowed a clutch hit to former A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie, knocking in Altuve, and Oakland had no response. Houston closer Luke Gregerson (W, 5-1, 3.05 ERA) earned the win, and Mujica (L, 2-4, 4.13 ERA) was hung with the loss.
Lowrie, even though he added the game-winning hit, wasn’t pleased with his defensive miscue in the ninth:
“It was just a horseshit throw. There’s really no other way to say it. It’s definitely not acceptable, but I just have to continue to work at it. … I feel responsible for the inning like that. We got an opportunity to get the lead runner right there. Instead of first with one out, they got first and third with nobody out.”
He made up for it in the end, which really sucks for Brooks, though it also highlights just how well he handled the powerful Houston lineup.
Brooks threw 108 pitches and 69 strikes in seven innings that included seven punchouts, four hits, one walk and one run. Mind you, we’re talking about a 25-year-old who nearly shut out a team which ranks third in runs scored this season.
“It’s a big opportunity. It’s something the Royals weren’t able to give me right now and I’m really thankful that Oakland is confident and willing to give me that shot.”
It’s another night that includes a terrific start with little offensive help get spoiled by the Oakland bullpen. The only difference is that the pitcher that started is still relatively unknown, even in Oakland.
Drafted in the ninth round of the 2011 draft, the 6-foot-4 Brooks pitched well in the minors but didn’t dazzle enough to be considered a prized prospect.
He came over with minor league pitcher Sean Manaea from Kansas City and was able to step in and start right away.
He’s allowed 15 hits over nearly 19 innings this year, four and one-third coming in relief for the Royals, with only five earned runs.
He’s gotten little work in his career, but is impressing at the major league level in his first two starts with the A’s.
“Personally, it feels good. Obviously, good to get the win in the first one. And a little upsetting not getting the win for us today.”