It was another rough night offensively for the A’s on Tuesday, and the signs of that came early courtesy of Astros left fielder Colby Rasmus.
He made a throw home to nail Ryon Healy in the second and extinguish an early A’s scoring opportunity. Then Rasmus did it with the bat, homering off Kendall Graveman in the bottom of that inning to send the Astros on their way to a 3-1 victory over Oakland at Minute Maid Park.
It’s been a barren two days in the Lone Star state for the A’s so far. Over the first 18 innings of this three-game series, they’ve managed to score just one run on nine hits. On Tuesday it was right-hander Collin McHugh who handcuffed them. McHugh came in having allowed 12 earned runs over his previous 13 1/3 innings, spanning three starts. But he went six scoreless innings in this one and held the A’s to just four hits, striking out five and walking one.
The Astros put on a show defensively throughout the night, including terrific plays from the dynamic double play combo of Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve at different points. That continued a month-long pattern that has seen the A’s score just 3.4 runs per game throughout August. Their 93 total runs are the fewest in the American League for the month.
Starting pitching report:
Kendall Graveman (10-9) took the loss in this one, but he certainly didn’t get much help tonight. The sinkerballer went seven inning sand allowed three runs on just four hits. Rasmus got to him for a homer on a 1-2 pitch. Then Houston added a run in the third on Alex Bregman’s two-out single, set up by George Springer’s steal of second and Stephen Vogt’s throwing error that moved him to third. Then Evan Gattis added a solo shot in the seventh to make it a 3-0 game.
John Axford pitched a scoreless eighth to keep the A’s within striking distance.
At the plate:
The A’s appeared to be in business against McHugh (9-10) in the second, when Healy advanced to third base with one out. But Max Muncy lofted a fly ball to left, and Rasmus fired his throw home as Healy tagged up. The throw was well off-line, taking catcher Jason Castro well to the first-base side of home plate. But Castro retrieved the ball and made an excellent diving effort to tag Healy before he touched the plate.
The A’s scored their only run in the eighth when Max Muncy reached on an error and came around to score eventually on Marcus Semien’s grounder to short.
In the field:
Marcus Semien made a terrific diving play up the middle, then hopped to his feet and threw out Marwin Gonzalez for the A’s best defensive play of the night.
Rasmus’ throw home to nail Healy wasn’t the first time he’s hurt the A’s with his arm this season. He made a terrific play earlier this season at Minute Maid Park, fielding Jed Lowrie’s base hit off the wall and firing a perfect throw to second to get Lowrie, who had to figure he had a double as the ball came off the bat.
Ross Detwiler (1-3, 5.74) matches up against Mike Fiers (9-6, 4.40) in Wednesday’s 11:10 a.m. matchup that closes this six-game road trip for Oakland.