Tuesday night, the Athletics could put together just four hits against the Astros, losing 9-1. Wednesday, four hits were enough for Oakland to earn a two-game split, riding Frankie Montas to a 2-1 win.
Montas (W, 3-1, 2.70 ERA) pitched a solid 6-1/3 innings, shushing Houston (12-6) and and giving his offense time to work. And behind a pair of doubles in the second and a Matt Chapman solo homer (6) in the sixth, the A’s (11-10) did just enough to end the Astros’ 10-game winning streak.
Montas made his fourth start of the season and held the Astros hitless into the fifth inning. The out-of-options 26-year-old has been Oakland’s best starter in the early season.
Bob Melvin knew he could count on Montas looking for Oakland’s first victory over the Astros in its fifth try this season:
“The way they [the Astros] have been pitching, it is hard to score runs on them. As a starting pitcher, when you take the mound, you are pretty aware of the situation and being beaten four times in a row, we need someone who can put up some zero’s. That is exactly what he did.”
Montas wasn’t worried about what it would take to get a win, his focus was solely on putting his best effort forth:
“I just try to do my job and I know I always try to give 100 percent and compete.”
Yuli Gurriel finally broke up the Montas no-no bid with a one-out base hit up the middle in the fifth. Houston had some chances early, but couldn’t cash in on a Jurickson Profar error in the first. Montas threw 88 pitches, 58 for strikes resulting in six strikeouts and two walks.
Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Montas struck out two of the first four batters he faced in the sixth. But he walked the other two, and Michael Brantley beat the shift, chopping an RBI single to left-center knocking in Alex Bregman. What should have been a routine ground ball to shortstop Marcus Semien gave Houston starter Wade Miley new life.
Chapman greeted the tied game leading off the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run into left center giving the lead back to Montas.
Chapman tipped his hat to the Oakland hurler:
“He has been going out there every single time, every start this season and gave us the chance to win. We haven’t always scored the most runs for him but he has kept us in ball games and made pitches when we needed to. Keeping that team to one run is impressive. Especially after I think they won 10 in a row until today.”
Miley (L, 1-2, 3.32 ERA) did his best to match Montas, slowing Oakland for six innings. The difference was merely a 1-1 cutter from the Astro lefty that leaked out over the plate to Oakland”s powerful third baseman.
Lou Trivino took over for Montas in the top of the seventh after a one-out base hit. Trivino finished the seventh inning with back-to-back strikeouts, then added one more strikeout in a perfect eighth.
Blake Treinen (S, 6, 0.79 ERA) took the ball from Trivino, working around a walk and a single to seal Houston’s first loss in nearly two weeks.
The A’s will continue their homestead Friday, opening series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Aaron Brooks (2-1, 4.24 ERA) will be the starting pitcher for the A’s facing Marcus Stroman (0-3, 1.99 ERA).
Marco Estrada, who was tagged with five hits, seven runs and a loss in a 3-1/3 inning start Tuesday night, was placed on the 10-day injured list before the game. Chris Bassitt was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas. Bassitt began the season on the IL, recovering from a lower leg contusion.