Houston will have home-field advantage in the ALDS
Astros lock up second seed in AL with win over Oakland
With a loss on Friday in the series opener to postpone it another day, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against Oakland hoping to tie one more loose end on the regular season: clinching the number two seed in the American League. With a great night at the plate by their bats, they'd get the victory to ensure that the White Sox would have to travel to Houston for ALDS Game 1.
Final Score: Astros 10, A's 4
Astros' Record: 94-67, first in the AL West
Winning Pitcher: Phil Maton (6-0)
Losing Pitcher: Paul Blackburn (1-4)
Oakland strikes first, Houston responds in a big way
Jake Odorizzi looked as though he might be in for a rough night after his top of the first inning turned awry. The A's started things off with a single; then, after a rough play by Yordan Alvarez in left field, a potential became an RBI triple to start Oakland's night ahead 1-0 after two batters. They went on to double the lead two batters later, getting an RBI double before Odorizzi could get through the frame.
Go down and get it big fella!#ForTheH pic.twitter.com/lsrCkAY010
— Houston Astros (@astros) October 2, 2021
Luckily for him, Houston's offense started just as hot, responding in the bottom of the first with a single and a walk to set up Yordan Alvarez's 33rd home run of the season, a go-ahead shot to make it 3-2. Jason Castro made it back-to-back games with a homer in the next inning, sneaking a solo blast over the Crawford Boxes wall to give Houston the two-run advantage. They didn't stop there, loading the bases with three-straight singles before an RBI groundout by Alex Bregman pushed the lead to 5-2.
Houston goes to the bullpen in the fifth
In command of the lead for the 2021 AL batting title, Yuli Gurriel drilled a ball to left-center to lead off the bottom of the third, and though initially ruled a double, would go to review and end up being a solo homer to make it a four-run game. The score remained 6-2 as Odorizzi erased a walk for a scoreless fourth, but a leadoff single in the top of the fifth would score and give him his third earned run of the game before he would end his night two outs into the frame. His final line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 69 P.
Phil Maton was Houston's first reliever out, taking over for Odorizzi to try and get the third out of the fifth. After an error, shift-beating single, and a walk, he loaded the bases but would escape the jam by getting a groundout, using 19 pitches to get one out, but keeping the score 6-3. Ryne Stanek took over in the top of the sixth, and after two walks, he nearly gave up a game-tying three-run homer to Tony Kemp, but it would get snagged at the wall by Kyle Tucker to end the inning and strand both runners.
Astros clinch the second seed
The Astros added more insurance in the bottom of the sixth, putting two on base to set up a two-RBI triple by Michael Brantley to extend the lead to five runs. Brooks Raley took over out of the bullpen in the top of the seventh, and he erased a one-out single to get a scoreless inning. The runs kept coming across for Houston in the bottom of the inning, with a leadoff single by Gurriel turning into a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker to give them double-digits.
Kendall Graveman was next out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth, and after putting runners on the corners with no outs, he would allow a two-out RBI single to make it 10-4 before finishing the inning. With his next opportunity likely in ALDS Game 1, the Astros brought in closer Ryan Pressly in the top of the ninth to close out the game. He'd get a scoreless inning to finish off the win, which allows the Astros to stay in Houston after Sunday's regular-season finale to prepare for the ALDS.
Up Next: Game number 162, the final regular-season matchup of the year, will have a start time of 2:10 PM Central on Sunday, around the same time as all other MLB games on the final day of the season. Cole Irvin (10-15, 4.18 ERA) will make his final start of 2021 for Oakland, while Jose Urquidy (8-3, 3.56 ERA) will get a final tune-up before taking on his role on the Astros' postseason pitching staff.
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