Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 2.70) vs Scott Feldman (4-8, 4.60)
Well, ain't that a thing. Three outs away from winning. Three outs from going up 2-0 in this series against the best team in baseball. One out, even, as the Astros still held a 4-3 lead with one on and two away in the 9th. Then a wild pitch moved the tying run into scoring position. Then a walk put the winning run on base. Then it was tied. Then they fell behind. Then they were buried and dead. Oakland beats the Astros 7-4 on the strength of a 6-run 9th, and Houston falls to 43-64 with two days left in July.
On the Mound:
*It is shameful that the Astros' disastrous 9th overshadows, because the story tonight should have been Scott Feldman. For 7 innings, he was the story, out-dueling NL All-Star refugee Jeff Samardzija and giving his mates every chance to beat the A's again. Which they should have. Scott's line: 7 IP / 5 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 3 BB / 1 K, with the only run scoring on a Josh Reddick solo shot in the 5th.
*The Houston bullpen wasn't ALL bad tonight, as trusty Josh Fields fanned one in a perfect 8th.
*But trusty Chad Qualls was not so trusty tonight. A leadoff K followed by three straight hits cut Houston's lead from 4-1 to 4-3, but a fielder's choice at second notched out #2, with a man on first and one out to go. Then wild pitch, walk, single, the score was tied, and Qualls was done.
*Qualls' line was not done, however, as Tony Sipp faced one batter (Brandon Moss) and allowed a RBI single, with the run charged to Chad.
*Then Jose Veras came on and served up a 2-run double to Josh Donaldson, with one run each charged to Qualls and Sipp. An IBB and a groundball out and the A's 9th was mercifully over at last, but hardly the way Houston wanted. Finally tally was 5 ER charged to Qualls and 1 ER to Sipp.
At the Plate:
*Trying to remember the positives, Marwin Gonzalez got the Astros out to an early 1-0 lead with a solo home run to right in the 1st (his 5th). That sets a new career high for HR in a season for Marwin, and he finished 1x4 with a K.
*Kiké Hernandez also had a fine night, going 2x3 with a RBI double, a RBI triple, and a run scored.
*Jose Altuve's latest hitting streak is up to 11 games, as he went 1x3 with a walk and a RBI tonight.
*Robbie Grossman went 1x4 with a R, a SB, and 2 K.
*Jason Castro was 1x4 with 2 K.
*And Jonathan Singleton went 0x3 with a K, but still walked and scored a run.
Whoever stuck the voodoo pin in their Chad Qualls doll after he struck out Stephen Vogt leading off the 9th. It went single, double, single, groundout, wild pitch, walk, single, and a 4-1 Astros advantage had become a 4-all tie by the time Qualls left the mound. Then Tony Sipp allowed a single to make it 5-4 Oakland. Then Jose Veras allowed a double to make it 7-4. Then Stephen Vogt made his second plate appearance of the inning and was intentionally walked by Veras before Derek Norris grounded out to end it. But, damn.
Man of the Match:
This was going to go to Scott Feldman before the 9th-inning goatpen meltdown, and it still goes Feldman now. Great job tonight.
Goat of the Game: