Before the fireworks lit up the sky on Friday night at the Coliseum, the Athletics put on a show of their own in a 14-2 blowout win over the Houston Astros.
After being swept over four games by the Seattle Mariners, the A’s said they were looser, having fun, and starter Frankie Montas was sensational on the mound, striking out eight in seven innings giving up one earned run while walking three. He also notched his 200th strikeout on the season, a big achievement for the right-hander.
“That was one of my goals coming into the season,” Montas said after the game. “I’ve told the guys since the season started, I was like, ‘I just want to stay healthy, every five days and I want to get 200 strikeouts,' and for me to be able to accomplish that goal, I’m just very happy right now.”
Montas became the first A's pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts since Barry Zito struck out 205 batters in 2001. (h/t Shayna Rubin, Mercury News)
Montas, completing his first full MLB season, said he’s learned a lot from his fellow A’s pitchers and it appears he’s getting better as time goes on. His velocity, in a game at the end of September, was still topping out at 98 mph.
“I’m all about to go out there and learn,” Montas said. “One of the things I have learned is how to use my velocity, how to use my fastball. You know I can’t go out there and try to throw 98-99 all the time, I’m going to be done by the third or fourth inning, so that’s one of the things that I have learned this year, how to use my velo.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin was impressed with Montas’ outing -- especially against the AL West rivals.
“Two hits against that lineup’s pretty good,” Melvin said. “And really looks like he was in control most of the game.”
Astros second baseman José Altuve hit a home run off Montas in the top of the third inning. When Altuve came back to the plate in the seventh, it was imperative to Montas’ confidence he stayed in.
Altuve lined out to left fielder Tony Kemp.
As Montas improves while the A’s head toward the autumn months, Melvin said it’s rare to see that, especially at this point in the season.
“Yeah, it’s one thing if you have a few of those under your belt and conditioned to do it, another thing that you go through a 60-game season, and the year before, he didn’t pitch that much … it just means he’s a horse. He’s kind of built for it … so yes, it’s kind of unique.”