Since joining the AL West, the Houston Astros have found it quite difficult to protect their home field against the Oakland Athletics.
Following a rare victory at Minute Maid Park, the Astros will look to make it two in a row Sunday with just their sixth win in 26 meetings against the A’s..
Sparked by center fielder Dexter Fowler, who went 2 for 4 with a homer and the go-ahead base hit in the eighth inning while also scoring two runs, Houston (8-17) beat Oakland 7-6 on Saturday.
"Just simplify things at the plate and seeing good pitches," said Fowler, who had multiple hits for the first time during a hitting streak that reached seven. "I’d been swinging at some bad ones, so I settled down a little and found some that were in my zone."
The victory snapped an eight-game winning streak overall in the series by the Athletics (15-9), while the Astros are now 2-10 versus Oakland in their own park and 5-20 overall since joining the AL. Houston had also dropped six straight at home this season prior to the win.
If Collin McHugh’s sensational Astros debut was any indication, Houston may have a decent chance to take the series. McHugh went 6 2-3 innings Tuesday at Seattle, striking out 12 without a walk and holding the Mariners to three hits in a 5-2 win.
McHugh was 0-8 with an 8.94 ERA in 15 games – nine starts – for the Mets and Rockies the previous two years.
"It was good to get the proverbial gorilla off your back with a ‘W,’" McHugh said. "(Catcher Jason) Castro had a great game plan coming in. Between him and the coaching staff, they did a real good job of preparing me."
Tommy Milone (0-1, 4.24 ERA) will get the ball for Oakland looking again for his first win after the A’s bullpen blew one his last time out. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in his first three starts, but walked four, hit a batter and gave up five hits Tuesday before Texas rallied to win 5-4.
Milone has struck out 20 and walked just one Astro in 25 1-3 innings over four starts against Houston, but he has a 4.62 ERA.
The A’s have 39 hits and 28 runs in the first three games of this series. They’re averaging 7.8 runs in six games against the Astros and 4.2 against everyone else.
Oakland’s success the last two days has come without Yoenis Cespedes, who sat out after straining his left hamstring Thursday. Cespedes, who has reached in half of his 18 plate appearances against the Astros this season, could return to the lineup on Sunday if he is fully cleared.
"We will get a read on what his running ability will be, which is obviously important for him getting back in the game," manager Bob Melvin said.
A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie is 9 for 22 with a homer and two doubles in his last five games against his former team.