Houston takes the opener against Oakland
Alvarez's homers help lift Astros out of early hole against A's
After finishing their recent grueling stretch of twenty games in twenty days with a four-game sweep of the Indians in Cleveland, the Astros returned home for the final six games before the All-Star break. First up was a three-game set against the A's, and despite Oakland building up a significant early lead, Houston would roar back into it and get the victory in the opener.
Final Score: Astros 9, A's 6
Astros' Record: 53-33, first in the AL West
Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (3-3)
Losing Pitcher: J.B. Wendelken (1-1)
Oakland comes out swinging against Valdez
Things looked dreary for Framber Valdez and the Astros from the get-go. Oakland came out swinging, literally, turning the first two pitches around for back-to-back hits to threaten early. That turned into a three-run inning as they'd get five hits in total and send seven batters to the plate.
Valdez didn't fare any better in the second, once again giving up a three-run frame, this time on three hits, giving the A's six runs and eight hits, both season highs for Houston's starter, in just the first two innings. He would rebound to get a few more innings, erasing a single in the third, a walk in the fourth, and one of each in the fifth. His final line: 5.0 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 0 HR, 93 P.
Houston roars back into it on Alvarez's power
Luckily for Valdez, he'd get off the hook thanks to his offense bailing him out with some big hits of their own. After Oakland's three-run first, Yordan Alvarez shifted momentum temporarily back Houston's way with a two-run homer to make it 3-2. After Oakland pushed the lead back to four runs in the second, Houston clawed one run back on a two-out RBI single by Myles Straw.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Astros put two of their first three batters of the inning on base, setting up another Alvarez homer, this one a three-run game-tying blast to make it a brand new ballgame and getting Valdez out of losing position. After a scoreless top half of the inning by Bryan Abreu, Houston grabbed their first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth on a two-RBI single by Jose Altuve, making it 8-6. They didn't stop there, with Yuli Gurriel adding another on an RBI groundout.
Astros take the opener
Abreu remained in the game on the mound for Houston in the top of the seventh and erased a leadoff double by retiring the next three A's in order. Ryne Stanek was next out of Houston's bullpen as the setup man in the top of the eighth and did his job with a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game. Still 9-6 in the top of the ninth, closer Ryan Pressly entered and earned another save by finishing off the win for Houston, their fifth in a row.
Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start time on Wednesday. Sean Manaea (6-5, 3.13 ERA) will be on the mound for Oakland, going up against Luis Garcia (6-5, 3.14 ERA) for Houston.
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