Houston is now 22-23 on the year

Astros drop finale to A's and once again have a losing record

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With Oakland securing the series by winning three of the first four games of this five-game set, the Astros took the field Thursday afternoon in an attempt to salvage a game to grab a game back in the division standings. Here is a quick recap of the finale with the A's:

Final Score: A's 3, Astros 1.

Record: 22-23, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Sean Manaea (4-2, 4.46 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1, 3.72 ERA).

One pitch changes Urquidy's day

The early innings of Thursday's game flew by, with the Astros swinging early and often against Sean Manaea, while Jose Urquidy was blanking the A's on the other side. After three perfect frames, Urquidy did not allow a baserunner until the fourth, but he would work around two walks that inning to keep Oakland off the board.

He allowed his first hit to lead off the bottom of the fifth, a double that he worked around by retiring the next three batters to send the scoreless game to the sixth. He returned for the sixth to try and get through another inning, getting two quick outs before a two-out walk. That would prove costly as Matt Olson would launch a two-run go-ahead home run in the next at-bat to give Oakland a 2-1 lead. He would get the final out of that inning, bringing an end to his day. His final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Manaea limits Houston's bats

Meanwhile, Sean Manaea was handling the Astros relatively easily. After retiring the first fifteen Astros in order, Josh Reddick would finally give Houston their first baserunner in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double. He moved to third on a single, then scored on a double play, but that one run would be all the Astros could get against him as he would finish seven innings on just 61 pitches, allowing just the one run.

After Urquidy, Andre Scrubb came in to try and keep it a 2-1 game in the bottom of the seventh, but again a walk would cost Houston. Scrubb walked the leadoff batter, who stole second, then scored on an RBI-single to make it 3-1 Oakland. Scrubb would issue a two-out walk, prompting another move to the bullpen, this time for Brad Peacock. Peacock would walk his first batter, loading the bases, but would get the third out of the inning.

Astros drop below .500 again

Brandon Bielak would make an appearance in relief for the bottom of the eighth. He was able to work around a one-out single and two-out double to keep it a two-run game heading to the ninth. The 3-1 score would go final as Oakland's bullpen would keep the Astros off the board. The loss put an end to the five-game series where the Astros went 1-4 against the division-leading A's and pushed Houston back below .500 at 22-23. They have won just one time in their last nine games.

Up Next: The Astros will have one of their last two scheduled days off on Friday before starting a two-game series with the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Saturday. The first game will get underway at 7:07 PM Central on Saturday and features Framber Valdez (3-3, 3.61 ERA) pitching for the Astros against Tony Gonsolin (0-0, 0.76 ERA) for the Dodgers.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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