HOUSTON — One of the Oakland A’s season-long problems came back to bite them Friday in their series-opening game with the Houston Astros.
No, not starting pitching or defense, although those two serial issues played a role as well.
The A’s went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base — including three in the first inning — in a 5-1 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The A’s lack of opportunistic hitting proved costly as Kyle Tucker’s two-run home run in the sixth inning landed deep in right where many fans wore metallic gold crowns in honor of “King Tuck.” It was Tucker’s bobblehead night, honoring his 2022 Gold Glove. His seventh homer of the year came off Ken Waldichuk (1-3) and scored José Abreu.
Tucker also doubled in the fourth to score Yordan Alvarez, who led off with a double of his own off the top of the wall in center. The Astros have won eight of their last nine games, and the A’s have lost five of six.
Oakland entered Friday with a team batting average of .217 with runners in scoring position, a mark that ranked third-last in the major leagues. In those situations, before Friday’s game. they had struck out 106 times, tied for third-most in MLB.
In the first inning against the Astros, both JJ Bleday and Ramón Laureano were fanned by Brandon Bielak, who pitched five innings, allowing one run on five hits while walking three and striking out nine.
Waldichuk allowed three runs and five hits in five innings before leaving the game in the sixth inning with a mild calf strain. He will be evaluated Saturday, manager Mark Kotsay said.
“I thought Ken went out there and grinded,” Kotsay said. “He got hurt tonight in the middle of the order. A couple of breaking balls just hung in the zone for Tucker, and they took advantage of it.”
Reliever Lucas Erceg, a San Jose native, made his MLB debut in the eighth and allowed two hits and one earned run before he finished the inning.
There was an added buzz in the Minute Maid Park atmosphere for José Altuve’s 2023 debut. The 33-year-old veteran had been on the injured list since fracturing his right thumb March 18 while playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Altuve went 0 for 4 with a walk.
Houston took the lead in the second. Abreu led with an infield single, and Jeremy Peña grounded into a fielder’s choice that led to a throwing error that helped bring Abreu home.
Oakland’s lone run came in the third when Shea Langeliers doubled to deep right-center to score Esteury Ruiz.
Alex Bregman singled in the eighth to score Jake Meyers and put Houston up 5-1.
Oakland has lost 10 of the last 12 games. At 10-36, the A’s are off to the worst start through 46 games since Baltimore started 1988 at 9-37.
Oakland: RHP reliever Zach Jackson was placed on the 15-day injured list with a flexor tendon strain in his right elbow. Manager Mark Kotsay estimated Jackson could be out for 4-6 weeks. The team also designated Zach Neal for assignment and added RHP Lucas Erceg to the active roster.
Houston: RHP Luis Garcia underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John) on his right elbow on Friday, Astros General Manager Dana Brown said. Garcia, 26, is 28-19 with a 3.61 ERA in 69 appearances (63 starts) in his career. He will miss the remainder of the 2023 season and is expected to return at some point during the 2024 season, the Astros said.
In the second of the three-game series on Saturday, Houston RHP Hunter Brown (4-1, 3.43 ERA) is scheduled to square off against Oakland LHP JP Sears (0-3, 5.27 ERA).
Soruce : https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/05/19/another-season-long-issue-haunts-as-who-lose-starting-pitcher-to-injury/