Houston can't complete the sweep

Astros' winning streak ends with loss to A's in series finale

Houston's offense was quiet on Thursday against the A's. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

With wins in their last six games, including the first two in this three-game set to secure the series victory, the Astros entered Thursday afternoon's finale looking for a sweep to continue their winning streak. Instead, a cold day at the plate would allow Oakland to salvage a game after two early runs.

Final Score: A's 2, Astros 1

Astros' Record: 54-34, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (8-7)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (6-2)

Rough first inning for McCullers Jr.

Just like in the other two games in this series, Oakland was the one to jump out to the first lead of the day. It came on three straight hits with one out in the top of the first: a double, an RBI ground-rule double, and an RBI single to put the A's up 2-0 before Houston could come up to bat. McCullers Jr. did well after that, limiting his opponent to those two runs, tossing six more scoreless frames to finish with a quality start. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 107 P.

Astros' winning streak ends

Meanwhile, the Astros were struggling against Frankie Montas. They were held without a run through the first six innings, then got on the board in the bottom of the seventh after a two-out double by Kyle Tucker set up an RBI double by Chas McCormick, cutting the deficit in half at 2-1. That would be their lone offensive highlight of the day, though, as Oakland's bullpen would finish the job to hand Houston the loss and kept the Astros from the series sweep.

Up Next: Houston will now turn their attention to a weekend series with the visiting Yankees, starting with Friday night's opener at 7:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the game is expected to be Nestor Cortes (0-0, 1.29 ERA) for New York and Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 3.70 ERA) for the Astros.

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1. Davis Mills had an up-and-down day under center Friday. One play saw Mills drop back and try to get rid of the ball as Jonathan Greenard was rushing him only to have Greenard leap up and intercept Mills for what would have been an interception returned for a score.

2. A few plays later Davis Mills showcased his short memory. Mills surveyed the field, looked off the safety, and pitched a strike to Brevin Jordan over the middle, wide open, for a touchdown.

3. Davis Mills doesn’t stack bad plays. It is rare to see multiple bad plays happen in a row and Mills be the cause, or a cause, of the play not working. When he misses something, he usually makes up for it the next play.

4. It was a makeshift offensive line on Friday. Max Scharping played a lot at left guard. Charlie Heck saw some snaps at left tackle while Laremy Tunsil took a breather. Veteran lineman Cedric Ogbuehi played some at right tackle. There was plenty of work emphasized on the rushing attack Friday. The offensive line was fine, nothing special. I would say slight edge to the defense overall.

5. Rookie Kenyon Green didn’t practice. Right tackle Tytus Howard didn’t practice either. Pro Football Network is reporting Tytus Howard is out with a positive Covid test. Kenyon Green was banged up last practice, but Lovie Smith expects both back in the coming days.

6.The offensive line had its hands full with the defensive line today. Jonathan Greenard made the above-mentioned play of the practice with an interception. It felt constantly like there was some level of success from the defensive line. Not to say they dominated, but I would think the defense is happy with their day.

7. Maliek Collins has been a nice player in camp. He looks a bit quicker than last year. Collins downplayed how many “close” plays he had last year citing that everyone knows the saying “close but no cigar.” I asked him if he expected a lot of cigars this year. He chuckled and said yes. Teammate Roy Lopez gushed about what he believes Collins can be for this team and called his teammate one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

8. I almost wonder if quiet Derek Stingley days are good days. Stingley wasn’t involved in a lot of plays, but I know Davis Mills saw him on Friday. Mills dropped back on one play and made a read to his left seeing Chris Moore. Stingley darted from coverage towards Moore causing Mills to move off Moore and head to Nico Collins for a score. Yes, the defense allowed a touchdown, but Stingley did his job.

9. Rookie safety Jalen Pitre is a “starting” safety for the team according to Lovie Smith. Pitre had an interception, depending on who you ask, in practice. It is clear the Texans trust him and have put a lot on his plate. I would expect to see a lot of the rookie safety, good or bad, this season.



10. Lovie Smith praised the team’s depth at linebacker earlier in camp. I scoffed a little at the notion, but there seems to be a new linebacker making a play each day. Christian Kirksey had a nice stop in the run game today. Kevin Pierre-Louis, who played very little last year, has flashed. There’s some depth here, despite my skepticism.

11. Ka'imi Fairbairn doesn’t have a challenger in camp this year. I believed this offseason should have seen at the very least someone to challenge the kicker heading into his seventh year in the league. He’s been solid in camp so far, but there have been some misses. It is tough to judge distance, but the team clearly has faith in him with no challenger in sight.

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