It was Double Or Nothing Saturday at the O.no Coliseum. The Oakland A's tied a club record with eight doubles. Meanwhile, the Houston offense produce nothing.
(c) Associated Press
Trevor Cahill, a 10-year veteran who was 73-79 and didn't sign as a free agent until late March, spun seven innings of one-hit ball with only one walk and seven strikeouts, stifling the Astros as if they were Pony Leaguers. An infield hit by Yuli Gurriel in the second was all the Champs could muster until a so-what homer by Tony Kemp in the ninth off the A's bullpen that made it a 7-1 final.
Once down by 12 games to the Astros back in June, Oakland has now blazed to a tie with Houston at the top of the AL West at 74-49. Seattle, which also won late on the coast, sit only 3-1/2 games back.
The Astros have dropped seven of their past eight games and have seen a six-game division lead evaporate like a puddle in the August heat. On most nights, the offense has been missing in action, offsetting the best rotation in the majors. Toss out the 12-run outlier on Wednesday and the Astros have averaged 2.5 runs per game over the past eleven.
On Saturday, Oakland produced two doubles each from four players - Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Steven Piscotty and Josh Phegley - to pace an 11-hit attack. Davis' two-run double plated two in the first against Dallas Keuchel. A trio of RBI doubles added three more runs in the sixth before Phegley's second double in the eighth drove home the last two tallies.
Now is the time for Houston's stars to step up and take over. Carlos Correa has been 2-for-24 (.083) since returning from the disabled list. George Springer has been 1-for-8 in an admittedly small sample. Even Alex Bregman has slumped to .235 since the All-Star break. It appears injured stars Jose Altuve and Brian McCann will return within a week, setting up some interesting roster decisions.
Justin Verlander (11-8) will need to do what aces are expected to do when he closes out the series in a 3:05 pm Central finale. Sean Manaea (11-8), who no-hit the Red Sox earlier this year, will take the mound for the Athletics. Verlander is attempting to notch his 200th career victory for the third time.
After I proclaimed Brad Peacock the starter later this week in Seattle after Collin McHugh worked last night, I appear to be wrong as Peacock worked in relief Saturday. It's becoming more likely the starter will be a bullpen-by-committee effort with McHugh, Peacock and Cionel Perez all possibly pitching more than an inning.
- Bob Hulsey