Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
With their string of bad luck and unexpectedly bad baseball continuing throughout the week and adding up to a five-game losing streak, the Astros were likely desperate to right the ship and avoid a four-game series sweep with a win on Sunday. Here is a quick recap of the finale with the A's:
Final Score: Astros 4, A's 1.
Record: 79-46, first in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (13-4, 2.84 ERA).
Losing pitcher: Brett Anderson (10-9, 4.06 ERA).
1) Great start for Greinke, gets win number 200
Zack Greinke got out to a hot start on Sunday afternoon, getting through the first three innings perfectly by retiring all nine batters in order and doing so with a very low pitch count. The A's struck first though, getting their first hit with a leadoff solo home run to start the bottom of the fourth inning and go up 1-0.
Greinke struggled a little more in that inning, allowing a walk and a single to give Oakland a chance to extend their lead, but he was able to strand them and get out of the inning. He would go on to hold Oakland scoreless over the next three innings, completing seven innings while allowing just one run en route to another win.
His final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. The win was number 200 for Greinke's career, moving him up another spot in the all-time win leaders list.
2) Bregman breaks Houston out of the slump
After wasting multiple chances early in the game, resulting in five stranded runners through the first four innings, the Astros were able to finally break through in the fifth. Back-to-back singles to start the inning gave Houston a couple of baserunners, with a groundout for the first out moving Josh Reddick to third.
Instead of tying the game on a sacrifice fly, the second out was a ball to shallow to allow Reddick to tag home. That brought Alex Bregman to the plate, and he was able to get Houston their first runs of the day with a two-out three-run home run to put the Astros in front 3-1.
Don't let @ABREG_1 get hot. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/3zrGJBc6SN
— MLB (@MLB) August 18, 2019
After a leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the sixth, Yuli Gurriel would extend Houston's lead to 4-1 with an RBI-double into the left-field corner. With Greinke's day done after seven terrific innings, Houston went to their bullpen starting in the eighth with Ryan Pressly who kept the three-run lead by tossing a scoreless inning. Roberto Osuna took over in the ninth and earned the save by finishing off the win to end Houston's losing streak.
Up Next: The Astros will be flying back to Houston on Sunday before kicking off a ten-game homestand with a four-game series with the Tigers starting on Monday night. The opening pitching matchup is expected to be Wade Miley (11-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston going against Edwin Jackson (3-5, 8.62 ERA) for Detroit.
The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball's fastest players.
Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstruction, and the commissioner's office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcement.
The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunning and creating an increased risk of injuries.
“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessary injuries," Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team's facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”
With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.
“We'll touch on that. We'll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”
Making obstruction a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstruction calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntled players and managers as enforcement is stepped up, but it also means it won't create long replay deliberations.
A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.
MLB changed a different baserunning rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approaching first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.
“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparation was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that," New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”
Increased enforcement could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significant element of MLB's motivation is injury prevention.
Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop's lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.
“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control," Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”
While acknowledging his reputation as a significant offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn't sound too worried about his play.
“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. "It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentional. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”