Both the Houston Astros and host Oakland Athletics will carry some momentum into Monday when they square off in the opening game of a three-game American League West series.
The Astros will send left-hander Framber Valdez (4-2, 2.83 ERA) to the mound to start the series, while Oakland will counter with right-hander Paul Blackburn (5-0, 1.70).
The Astros head south to Oakland after a 2-1 win in Seattle on Sunday that allowed them to salvage the finale of a three-game series against the Mariners.
Houston’s Yordan Alvarez singled home Aledmys Diaz with the game-winning RBI in the eighth. The Astros were 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the series before Alvarez’s go-ahead single.
“Yordan’s hit was big because coming through in that situation has been eluding us lately,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said afterward.
The Astros also got a solo home run from Jeremy Pena but had only six hits, two by Alvarez.
Houston got a spectacular start from Luis Garcia, who didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth inning. Rafael Montero earned the win for Houston after striking out two with runners on second and third in the seventh.
Ryan Pressly walked two and allowed a single to load the bases in the ninth but coaxed a 5-4-3 double-play groundout to allow the Astros to escape.
Houston scored just three runs in the series with the Mariners, only five runs in the last four games and 13 runs over its past six games, three of them wins.
Valdez has never defeated the Athletics, going 0-2 in six appearances (four starts) with a 4.08 ERA.
The Astros were without outfielder Kyle Tucker on Sunday after he left Saturday’s loss with what the team is calling discomfort in his left foot. Baker said the club is awaiting the results of Tucker’s MRI and that he is day to day.
Oakland also managed to avoid a sweep on Sunday, coming from down 4-0 to beat visiting Texas 6-5 and win the finale of a four-game series. Jed Lowrie’s single in the ninth plated Cristian Pache with winning run after the Athletics scored twice in the eighth to go ahead.
Oakland closer Dany Jimenez backed into the victory after he allowed Texas to tie the game in the top of the ninth on a wild pitch. It marked the first blown save for Jimenez in 11 chances.
The Athletics’ comeback produced just their third win in their past nine games. Oakland won despite going 3-for-20 with men in scoring position and leaving 16 runners on base.
In the series, the A’s were 5-for-45 with runners in scoring position. The Rangers helped out Sunday by committing five errors.
Blackburn is also 0-2 in his career versus Houston. His ERA is 13.50 — his highest against any team — in four appearances, three of them starts. In his last start, on Wednesday in Seattle, Oakland prevailed 4-2.
Blackburn shut out the Mariners on one hit over his 5 1/3 innings, although he walked five, hit a batter and struck out just two. In his first eight starts, Blackburn walked seven batters and hit none.
“Five walks is obviously unacceptable, but on the flip side of that, I only allowed one hit,” Blackburn said afterward. “My stuff was playing well. I was able to create soft contact and keep them from advancing runners.”
–Field Level Media