Game #51: Valdez stops the A’s in a 5-1 loss


The A’s lost Game 1 of the series to the Astros, falling 5-1 on a sunny Memorial Day in Oakland.

The Bats were quiet for most of the game, and it looked like they might go untouched at some point, but the offense broke that in the sixth with a double, and an RBI single prevented a white game. And that was about it.

The starting pitch was solid, but one day the Astros starter Framber Valdez pitched a full game at one point, there was no room for error.

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Both teams’ starting pitchers were on their A-game early today as both Paul Blackburn and left-handed Astros Framber Valdez traded zeros for the first three innings. The first hit of the day came from the Houston speedster Jose Siri, a triple down the left field line to start the third. Blackburn locked in and kept it home, knocking out the next two batters before an impressive catch by the third baseman Kevin Black-smith into foul territory by the A’s dugout ended the threat.

Things went downhill for Oakland after that. Houston finally broke through against Blackburn in the next round, as a suspended change for Yordan Alvarez was absolutely demolished in right field and put the Astros on the board. The right fielder didn’t even move, as that bombshell was the second-longest homer in all of baseball this year. It was only the second hit of the game so far.

A 1-out HBP and a steal put an Astro in scoring position at fifth and an RBI single from Houston’s worst hitter doubled his lead. The next batter, Jose Altuve, then took a pitch the other way and just slid a home run off the high part of the right field wall to double the lead again. Suddenly, the A’s were down 4-0 in the fifth.

After being bewildered by Valdez the entire game, the A’s finally got a hit, a first double from Smith to break up the no-hitter. Of course, on a day when little was going well for Oakland, he had to leave the game after stopping at second base.

The good news is that it’s just a bruised knee and it doesn’t seem serious, according to Kotsay after the game. With Smith offside, Seth Brown replaced him and went to left field while Chad Pinder moved to the infield and took over at third. A groundout then brought a warm-up Ramon Laurano to the plate:

With Valdez dominating, any damage against him was badly needed. Unfortunately, those two straight hits were the only A’s could get against him all day. They also drew a trio of walks.

The right-hander really got bitten on a few pitches, the two home runs he allowed. Coming in today, Blackburn had only given up one home run all year, so the pair of bombs that hit him in this one came as a surprise. Once again, however, Blackburn was allowed to face the Astros roster a third time and pitched the seventh, which he had not been allowed earlier this year. He won To mark Kotsay‘s confidence in this regard.

  • Paul Blackburn: 6 23 IP, 5H, 4R, 0BB, 5K, 91 slots

On his last batter of the day, a groundout to Pinder in third should have been the last out of the inning and allowed Blackburn to complete seven full innings, but a bad pitch caused a bad early collision:

Luckily, both players stayed in the game, so the A’s avoided the injury bug on this game.

This brought AJ Puk to end the round, and he also came back for the next round. The rare southpaw got a hit against Puk, with Alvarez hitting his second home run of the day.

A few Oakland relievers debuted their A’s in the final innings. right handed Parker Markel picked up Puk and faced four batters, walking two but also striking out a pair to finish the eighth. right-handed companion Domingo Tapiawho was actually making his MLB debut, had the ninth, getting three fly balls in a perfect inning for the rookie.

The A’s were down 1-2-3 in the eighth and ninth innings as Valdez went the distance in this one. They made him work for it as he threw 114 pitches, but he only allowed a pair of hits in the sixth and a few meaningless walks that Oakland couldn’t do anything with.

It’s definitely one of the offense’s weak spots this year, even with a relatively low seven K today. The complete lack of hits was the main culprit for the loss. At least they weren’t kicked out, or worse, no hits. Blackburn had a strong start to the game but Houston caught up with it on their second time. They are one of the best rosters in the league and they showed why today.

Thus, the A’s lost the first game of the series against the Astros. This month hasn’t been kind to Oakland, as they went 9-20 in May with one more to go. An extra win would be much better.

On the positive side, the A’s have Frankie Montas lined up for the start tomorrow night, so they have as much chance of bouncing back as ever. It will be opposed by Christian Javier, another Astros pitcher having a great season. To all then !


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