Houston is now 2-0

Astros stay hot at the plate in win over A's

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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.

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

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.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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