A’s battle past Houston for last-minute victory
Danny Valencia is quickly becoming a hero in Oakland.
The third baseman and the Athletics tacked on their fifth walk-off win of the season on a single down the left field line from Valencia.
A’s starter Chris Bassitt recorded 10 strikeouts over 6-2/3 innings and allowed only one run in an absolutely spectacular outing against Houston.
Oakland’s offense was held in check by opposing pitcher Mike Fiers throughout the first three innings, too, with a solid defensive performance from his teammates behind him.
But with two down in the fourth, Danny Valencia drove an 89 mph cutter into the left field bleachers, extending his hitting streak to four games.
Valencia’s homer put the A’s on top as he continued to steal the hearts of fans. The homer is Valencia’s ninth on the season, his second in Oakland.
Bassitt went on to retire the next 10 batters he faced using his deadliest pitch of the day: his curve. The pitch was the starter’s pick for nine of his ten strikeouts, shattering his previous career-high record of seven.
The afterglow of the homer wouldn’t last long though, as the teamwork of Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa brought the A’s back to reality.
Altuve singled to center, a seemingly harmless base hit that turned into a tied game. Correa smacked one into deep center while the speedy Altuve sent the defense into a flurry. Brett Lawrie collected the throw from Billy Burns while Altuve was rounding third.
Lawrie’s throw to home was spot on, beating the wheels in Altuve. Catcher Josh Phegley, however would be the one to foil a perfect relay. His attempt to collect the ball against his chest protector went awry,as the ball escaped his clutch and freed itself as Altuve crossed home plate-tying the game at 1-1 in the sixth.
The Correa RBI broke up Bassitt’s career-high 18-inning scoreless streak, as well. A walk to first baseman Luis Valbuena would be Bassitt’s (6-2/3 IP, three hits, two walks) last batter of the afternoon as Fernando Rodriguez came on as relief.
The action picked up again in the bottom of the eighth when Phegley drew the walk and shortstop Marcus Semien singled into right, advancing the catcher to third off the Astros third pitcher of the game, Will Harris.
Lead-off batter Burns drilled one between third and short into left, driving Phegley home to give Oakland a 2-1 lead.
With no outs and two men on base Tony Sipp took the pitcher’s mound in relief to Harris to face the heart of the lineup.
Crisp gave the defense an easy out with the pop up to first, but right fielder Josh Reddick flirted with the third base foul line, sending Sedin home from second.
Valencia was intentionally walked — his first free pass since 2011 — to load the bases for Vogt who went down swinging for out number two. Lawrie flew out to left, settling the dust at a 3-1 lead.
With the Astros seeking retaliation, Edward Mujica stepped on the mound to close out the ninth.
He gave up back-to-back singles to center fielder Carlos Gomez– who advanced to third off Lowrie’s at bat- before giving up a bomb of a three-run Rasmus’ homer.
And the lead.
The bottom of the lineup went back to work for the green and gold against former teammate Luke Gregerson.
Mark Canha — who entered the game late — used his speed to beat out the throw from Correa at short and advance to third off a Phegley single.
Burns collected the second intentional walk of the day, loading the bases for Crisp, who popped out. Reddick came up next, squeezing out an infield single when Gregerson couldn’t field the hit cleanly. Canha scored, tying the game at 4-4.
With two down and runners at the corners, enter the waiver claim of the season, maybe the decade.
Valencia looped a breaking pitch over the head of Luis Valbuena and watched the ball drop on the right side of the foul line, his teammates running onto the field with pie in hand.
The A’s won their series against the division leader; the last time Houston was in town the A’s couldn’t string together back-to-back wins.
Now, after they were sellers at the trade deadline, are returning to the form they set during the previous three seasons.
The A’s will head out on an extended road trip Sunday evening, stopping in Toronto and Baltimore over seven days.