The Oakland A's are in trouble. With a 5-2 loss to the Houston Astros Tuesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, the A's fall 0-2 in the best-of-five American League Division Series. The American League West champions must win three straight games to salvage their season.
Sean Manaea got the start on 12 days rest and his first postseason appearance hoping for a little redemption following a disappointing start in the wild card loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019.
A team that out-homers its opponent is undefeated in the postseason this year. The Astros found one more big swing than the A's.
Two came against Manaea, who managed to keep most of his offerings down – but not down enough for this powerful, motivated Houston lineup. George Springer – who's been hot all postseason – got things started with a two-run home run, he pulled a hanging curveball into the left field seats.
Manaea lost two ticks on his fastball velocity and the heart of the Astros lineup hit him hard in the fourth inning. IN a slew of contact registering with a 105, 109, 107, 100 mph exit velocity, the Astros created traffic on the base paths but only came away with one extra run. That could have spelled the end for the A's left-hander, but he came back to face the bottom of Houston's order in the fifth. Martin Maldonado greeted him and chased him out of the game with a solo home run.
Springer greeted reliever Yusmeiro Petit's first pitch with a hearty swing for his second home run of the afternoon.
The A's couldn't match the five Astros runs. Though built with the right-handers to challenge any left-handed pitcher, they couldn't consistently drive the ball against Framber Valdez.
Valdez had his biting curveball working from the first inning. Along with his sinker, the A's rolled over most of his offerings throughout.
Khris Davis got a hold of one of his few hanging curveballs, sending it into right field for his third home run of the postseason and second of the series. He hit a total of two home runs over 30 games in the regular season.
Chad Pinder, hitting third, hit his signature tape-measure home run for the A's second run.
If an ability to hit home runs is the goal, it seems home runs with runners on base is a separator. After Davis' bloop single in the fourth, Valdez retired 10 straight A's by keeping them mostly within the infield dirt.
The A's found success in the regular season – and against the Astros this year – with consistency from the pitching staff, solid defense and timely hits. They prided themselves on an ability to hang on late in games and lather up offense that bore some sensational comeback wins. Instead, they're 0-for-21 with six strikeouts after the sixth inning until Marcus Semien's single in the ninth inning.
In these two games, their division rivals that's owned them, blocked their postseason path, in years past had all that in spades. The A's franchise is only starting to break their bad luck in elimination games, and now they'll have to do it three times in three days to keep this season alive.
(c)2020 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
Visit The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.