Houston is now 2-0
Astros stay hot at the plate in win over A's
After handily taking care of the A's in a lopsided 8-1 win on Opening Day, the Astros sent their same lineup out to try and stay undefeated on the young season on Friday night. In game number two, they sent Cristian Javier to the mound looking to continue the success he had in his rookie campaign in the shortened 2020 season.
Javier would not last as long as Houston would have hoped, but the Astros' offense, led by a strong performance from the top of the batting order, would get the job done to improve them to 2-0 on the early season.
Final Score: Astros 9, A's 5
Astros' Record: 2-0, first in the AL West
Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-0)
Losing Pitcher: Jesus Luzardo (0-1)
Astros find success their second time through the order
Much like the night before, the Astros were quiet at the plate the first time through the order, then gained traction the next time through. Recently-named leadoff man Jose Altuve led off the third by working a four-pitch walk, moved to third on a double by Michael Brantley, and then scored on a three-run home run by Alex Bregman, giving him one in each game so far this year and putting Houston in front 3-0.
No doubter. Again.@Phillips66Co | #ForTheHpic.twitter.com/c7O49ldrm1
— Houston Astros (@astros) April 3, 2021
They kept terrorizing Jesus Luzardo again in the fourth, starting with a leadoff solo homer by Yuli Gurriel followed later by Brantley's second double in as many innings, this one bringing in a run to make it a 5-0 lead and keeping him red hot at the plate. Oakland was able to find similar success their second time through the lineup as well against Cristian Javier, who started the night with three perfect innings then ran into trouble in the fourth.
Oakland knocks Javier out early
In the bottom of the fourth, Javier allowed a leadoff single followed by an RBI-triple, then later allowed a one-out sac fly to cut the lead to 5-2. A single in the next at-bat to put two on base prompted Dusty Baker to make the early pitching change, bringing in Bryan Abreu. Javier's final line: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 73 P.
Abreu was able to get the final out of the inning, a lengthy one, before returning for the fifth. He made quick work of Oakland, retiring three batters in order, sending the game along to the sixth. After a scoreless top-half, Abreu tried to keep his rhythm going in the bottom of the inning but had to work around a single and a walk to get through it to keep it 5-2.
Astros tack on runs in the ninth to secure the win
How did Altuve score on this?! 🤯pic.twitter.com/OQd3QL8uVd
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 3, 2021
Thanks to an aggressive tag-up on a fly ball to the shortstop by Altuve, Houston extended their lead to four runs in the top of the seventh before moving on to their next reliever, Brooks Raley. Raley did not have the greatest stuff in his regular-season debut, giving up a leadoff walk that turned into a one-out, two-run home run to trim the lead to 6-4.
Joe Smith would complete the seventh, then Houston moved on to Blake Taylor, who would see a leadoff double come around to score and make it a one-run game after a couple of groundouts. Houston regained control of the momentum in the top of the ninth, starting with a leadoff single by Altuve, a double by Brantley, then an intentional walk to Bregman to load the bases with no outs.
Kyle Tucker was up next and brought in two runs with a single, which blasted past the shortstop into center field. Houston loaded the bases again with two out, then received some help from Myles Straw's speed to bring in another run. Ryan Pressly would come in for the bottom of the ninth, having already warmed up in preparation for a save opportunity, and closed out the win.
Up Next: Game three of this four-game series will get started at 3:07 PM Central on Saturday. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 3.93 ERA in 2020), who just signed a five-year, $85 million extension with the Astros, will begin his 2021 season looking to provide a complete, healthy season for the first time since he underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of 2018. Oakland will counter with Cole Irvin, who came to the A's from the Phillies in an off-season deal.