Right-hander Zack Greinke will try to get the visiting Houston Astros back to their winning ways while extending his dominance over the Oakland Athletics when the teams meet again Wednesday night.
In a tight game befitting clubs that both made the playoffs last season and entered this series separated by just a half-game, the A’s outlasted the Astros 6-5 in the opener of the three-game set on Tuesday night. Oakland scored single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
Ramon Laureano was the hero for Oakland, helping rally the home team from an early deficit with a pair of solo home runs. He capped the comeback for the A’s with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the ninth inning that ended Houston’s six-game winning streak.
“We’ve seen this before … multiple times,” A’s manager Bob Melvin gushed of his club’s fifth walk-off win of the young season. “We’re down and we come back and do our thing late. That’s a pretty good recipe, especially here at home.”
The win was the third straight for the A’s over the Astros, who began the season with a four-game sweep in Oakland. The Astros then won the teams’ next meeting in Houston before the A’s flipped the script and won the series’ final two games.
Unlike most A’s, Laureano has fared well against Greinke (3-1, 4.18 ERA), going 6-for-11 with two doubles, a triple and a home run.
He homered twice off the 37-year-old in Game 4 of last year’s American League Division Series, a game the Astros won 11-6 to eliminate the A’s from the postseason.
Astros manager Dusty Baker admitted afterward that he’s seen Laureano’s heroics way too often.
“It seems like he always hits a homer against us,” Baker said. “He’s cold in our reports coming in here, but he warmed back up against us.”
Greinke has gone 10-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 22 regular-season games, including 18 starts, against the A’s in his career. He’s been tough at Oakland, where he’s fashioned a 5-2 record and 2.41 ERA in 14 games (11 starts).
The veteran padded his stats with six shutout innings on Opening Day at Oakland last month, allowing just three hits in an 8-1.
Mark Canha (0-for-15), Jed Lowrie (1-for-13) and Matt Olson (2-for-16) are among the A’s who have struggled in their careers against Greinke.
The Houston ace is scheduled to be matched up with A’s right-hander Frankie Montas (5-2, 4.93 ERA) in a rematch of last year’s playoff duel.
In just his second career postseason start, Montas served up five runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings in the season-ending loss last October.
He was able to exact a measure of revenge when he threw six innings of one-run ball in a 7-3 win at Houston on April 10, giving Oakland a 2-1 series win after the season-opening debacle at home.
Montas has used the win as a springboard to a team-best five wins in his eight starts. He’s gone 3-0 the last three times he’s gotten the ball, limiting Toronto, Tampa Bay and Minnesota to a total of six runs in 17 1/3 innings.
He’s gone 5-3 with a 4.11 ERA in 10 career regular-season games (eight starts) against the Astros. Kyle Tucker, who homered in Tuesday’s series opener, Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley all have gone deep against him.
Correa and Brantley also homered off Montas in last year’s playoff game.
–Field Level Media