Houston wins both games against Oakland

Astros sweep doubleheader against A's to gain ground in AL West

Astros Michael Brantley, Kyle Tucker
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Astros Michael Brantley, Kyle Tucker

After the shortened series with the Angels due to hurricane Laura, then protesting Friday night's game to bring awareness to social injustice, the Astros played their first games in four days on Saturday afternoon. It was a doubleheader to make up Friday's game, giving Houston the chance to make a big move in the AL West standings if they could sweep the two seven-inning games against the division-leading Oakland A's. Here is a rundown of Saturday's doubleheader:

Game 1

Final Score (7 innings): Astros 4, A's 2.

Record: 18-14, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (3-2, 5.06 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chris Bassitt (2-2, 3.72 ERA).

Astros jump ahead early against Bassitt

After a quick top of the first by Lance McCullers Jr. on the mound, the Astros put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning. It started with a walk by Michael Branley, followed by a double by Yuli Gurriel. That put two runners on base, which Kyle Tucker would take advantage of, hitting a three-run home run to give Houston the early 3-0 lead.

Oakland would get on the board in the top of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with no outs after a double and single to start the frame. McCullers Jr. did well to limit the damage to one run, allowing just an RBI-groundout as he would get the next three batters in order, holding on to the lead at 3-1. Josh Reddick got the run back immediately in the bottom of the inning, leading it off with a solo home run to make it a three-run game once again. The next two batters reached base, chasing Chris Bassitt out of the game after just three innings pitched.

McCullers Jr. gets the win as Houston gains a game in the division

Other than allowing the run in the fourth, McCullers Jr. was doing well through five innings and returned for the sixth. He fielded a one-out groundball in that inning, but an errant throw to first would allow the runner to reach and advance to third. That turned into an RBI-single later in the frame, cutting the lead to 4-2. He would finish the inning, ending his day as Houston went to their closer in the seventh. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR, 93 P.

Ryan Pressly took over in the top of the seventh to close the game out. He did so, retiring Oakland in order as Houston trimmed a game off Oakland's division lead, with a chance at another less than an hour later.

Game 2

Final Score (7 innings): Astros 6, A's 3.

Record: 19-14, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (2-0, 2.68 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Frankie Montas (2-3, 6.06 ERA).

Oakland scores first, but Houston responds

The A's would counter the Astros and get on the scoreboard first in game two, getting a solo home run by Ramon Laureano in the first at-bat of the game against Zack Grienke. Kyle Tucker would once again be the difference-maker in Houston's half of the first, bringing in three runs on a bases-clearing triple to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the second, they extended the lead on a home run by George Springer that flew out so quickly and far that statcast couldn't even estimate it. That made it a 5-1 game, but Oakland would chip away over the next few innings.

A's trim down the lead against Greinke

After the leadoff homer in the first, Zack Greinke was able to settle in and keep Oakland from scoring any further in the first three innings. Matt Chapman would change that with a solo home run to start the fourth, then back-to-back one-out hits by Oakland in the fifth would set up an RBI-groundout to cut Houston's lead to two runs at 5-3.

Greinke would finish the fifth, but with his pitch count at 96, would not go any further. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 2 HR, 96 P.

Houston's bullpen completes the doubleheader sweep

Blake Taylor would take over for Greinke to start the top of the sixth. He would complete the inning, erasing a leadoff walk with a strikeout and double play to put Houston three outs away from the win. In the bottom of the inning, Martin Maldonado led off with a single, then would eventually score as two more singles moved him to third to set up a sac-fly by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3.

Ryan Pressly, who was able to get the save in the first game on just eight pitches, was able to enter for a second save in the top of the seventh. He completed the impressive feat, giving Houston the doubleheader sweep and gaining two games in the AL West standings, putting them 2.5 games behind Oakland for the division lead.

Up Next: Houston will get back to their regular schedule on Sunday, with the finale of this three-game set against Oakland at 1:10 PM. The expected pitching matchup is Framber Valdez (3-2, 2.35 ERA) for the Astros going opposite Jesus Luzardo (2-1, 3.74 ERA) for the A's.

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These uniforms have to go. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Major League Baseball will consider going back to having players wear their team uniforms for the All-Star Game.

Club uniforms were used by the American League from 1933-2019 and by the National League from 1934-2019. When the game resumed in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation in 2020, MLB had started a uniform contract with Nike and Fanatics, and All-Stars were outfitted in specially designed league uniforms that drew criticism from traditionalists.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

This year's AL uniforms had a sandy base with red sleeves and lettering and the NL had a navy base with light blue sleeves and lettering.

“I’m aware of the sentiment on this issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "I think where my head is on it, it’s something we’re going to have a conversation about coming out of the All-Star Game. We've got a lot of uniform things going on. And, obviously, the conversations have to involve the players first and foremost but Nike, some of our partners. But I am aware of the sentiment, and I do know why people kind of like that tradition."

MLB and Nike were criticized for club uniforms this year and said in May that 2025 club outfits will have larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization. Players complained this year that white pants worn by some teams are see-through enough to show tucked-in jersey tops.

Regional sports networks

Manfred said a national steaming package of local television broadcasts is a future possibility.

“I could see a situation where we grow into a 30-club model. It might start on the digital side, where you have 14 or 15 clubs, and, you start with a digital product there as your first alternative,” he said.

“I was in Sun Valley last week and I did the whole speed-dating thing with everybody who’s ever streamed anything. When you talk to people in the streaming business, they’re not really interested in buying the state of Wisconsin and two counties in Michigan," Manfred added. "They want to be able to stream quite frankly, all over the U.S. and Canada but more broadly internationally. So I think those conversations are a product of owners saying, holy cow, the RSN business is really deteriorating. We know the future’s going to be streaming. What we’re hearing from the streamers is they want a more national product, and we need to be responsive to what people want to buy.”

MLB took over production of Arizona and San Diego local television broadcasts last year following the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports’ Bally networks and said MLB will be available as an option for teams looking for new deals. He said Padres game are approaching 40,000 subscribers, which he called a good figure.

“Having said that, from a revenue perspective it is not generating what the RSNs did," Manfred said. "The RSNs were a great business. Lots of people paid for programing they didn’t necessarily want. And it’s hard to replicate that kind of revenue absent that kind of bundling concept.”

Offense

While offense is near half-century lows, it has picked up from early in the season.

“The decline in offense is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to and we’ll continue to monitor to make a decision as to whether we think we need to do something. You do hear a lot of chatter about the dominance of pitching in the game. That’s absolutely true.”

Birmingham

After the success of the June 20 game between San Francisco and St. Louis at Rickwood Field, Manfred said MLB will return to the ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama, but the “exact form” had not been determined.

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