The Houston Astros smacked three home runs in their 6-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday and have gone deep in each of their seven games this season, matching a franchise record set in 2016.
Houston entered play with 12 home runs, a total that led the American League. And with Minute Maid Park hosting fans for the first time since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, the slugging continued unabated with Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve all going deep.
“The opposition really can’t take a break,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Really can’t say I’ll pitch around this guy to get to that guy or I can go seven, eight, nine and rest three or four innings a game. And we’re not operating on full cylinders yet. I’m loving when the opportunity comes when everyone is operating on all cylinders, but I’ll take what I can now.”
Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will start the middle contest of the three-game series on Friday for the host Astros.
McCullers produced a solid start in his season debut last Saturday, allowing one run on two hits with seven strikeouts over five innings in the Astros’ 9-1 win over the Athletics. He improved to 6-2 with a 3.83 ERA over 10 career starts against Oakland, with 56 strikeouts against 27 walks in 54 innings.
Left-hander Sean Manaea (0-1, 9.64) gets the start for Oakland.
Manaea took the loss against the Astros last Sunday after surrendering five runs on six hits — including two home runs — and three walks with four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings in a 9-2 setback. He fell to 3-6 with a 3.66 ERA over 14 career starts against Houston. He finished 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA over 11 starts in 2020.
Oakland fell to 0-5 against the Astros this season with its lineup proving surprisingly feeble.
The Athletics have collected six or fewer hits in seven of eight contests this season and entered the three-game series against Houston tied with the second-lowest batting average (.170) in the majors. If not for a ninth-inning, two-run rally against the sixth pitcher of the night for the Astros, left-hander Brooks Raley, the Athletics would have scored one run or fewer for the fourth time.
“We’re just patiently waiting to get the bats going,” Oakland left fielder Mark Canha said. “Obviously, we’ve come out of the gates a little slow. We know we’ve got a good lineup and the kind of damage we can do. It’s easy to let those good at-bats slip away from you when the other team gets a lead or you’re playing from behind.
“We just need to loosen up a little bit up there and let the game come to us a little bit more and not try to do too much up there.”
–Field Level Media