Houston improves to 3-0
Alvarez lifts off as Astros stay perfect against A's
Firmly in control through the first two games of this series and season, thanks to their successful offense, the Astros tried to stay undefeated in the early regular season by getting another win against the A's on Saturday. They'd make their first change to their batting order, giving Alex Bregman a rest day and bringing in Aledmys Diaz in his place, and handed the ball to recently-extended Lance McCullers Jr to make his first start of the year.
Although it wouldn't be his most impressive outing, McCullers Jr. did enough to earn the win, thanks in part to a big home run by Yordan Alvarez. Houston would go on to win and stay perfect on the year, dropping the A's to 0-3 in the early season.
Final Score: Astros 9, A's 1
Astros' Record: 3-0, first in the AL West
Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0)
Losing Pitcher: Cole Irvin (0-1)
Houston strikes first but lose Brantley
Both teams were able to bring one run across in the first inning, though for Houston, it came at a cost, at least for today. Michael Brantley took a fastball to his wrist to become Houston's first baserunner, later scoring on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to put the Astros in front 1-0.
Michael Brantley would end up exiting the game with discomfort as a result, though the team quickly reported initial X-rays were negative, with Chas McCormick coming in to take his place. Houston plated another in the top of the second, loading the bases to set up a one-out RBI-single for Jose Altuve before they would strand the bases loaded.
An up and down day for McCullers Jr.
Lance McCullers Jr. labored to find the strike zone in the bottom of the first, issuing back-to-back walks to start his day. He would allow a one-out RBI-single to tie the game but rebounded with back-to-back strikeouts to get to the dugout, but not before tossing 33 pitches.
He rebounded nicely in the second, retiring Oakland in order on 12 pitches, but then lost control again in the third, using up another 32 to get through it and maintain the one-run lead. He turned that back around again with a quick fourth and would end up finishing five one-run innings, leaving in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7K, 95 P.
Alvarez makes noise as Houston secures series win
Yordan is back to mashing. 💪 pic.twitter.com/hMd9a8B4kr
— MLB (@MLB) April 3, 2021
Houston threatened again in the top of the fifth, this time avoiding multiple stranded runners as Yordan Alvarez would launch a three-run opposite-field home run to extend the lead to 5-1. Ryne Stanek took over in the bottom of the sixth for McCullers, striking out the side then tossing a quick seventh to maintain the four-run advantage.
Enoli Paredes was Houston's next reliever in the bottom of the eighth, but after loading the bases with one out on a single and two walks, Brooks Raley quickly replaced him. Raley would get out of the jam with back-to-back outs to strand all three runners and send the game to the final inning.
In the top of the ninth, after the first two batters reached, Chas McCormick would get his first major-league hit, an RBI-double off the left-field wall to bring in an insurance run, making it 6-1. Houston went on to score three more before it was said and done, and Raley would remain on the mound to close out the win. The victory locked up the series for Houston, giving them the opportunity to complete a four-game sweep to start the season.
Up Next: The fourth and final game of this series in Oakland will be at 3:07 PM Central on Sunday. Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.73 ERA in 2020) will get the start for Houston, while Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50 ERA) will make his 2021 debut for Oakland.
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