Keuchel loses control, AL West-leading Astros swept by A’s
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) There wasn’t much hand-wringing in Houston’s clubhouse after the Astros were swept in a four-game series by the Oakland Athletics.
Dallas Keuchel deemed it typical September baseball. Manager A.J. Hinch credited Oakland’s young ballclub for getting hot at the right time.
No reason to panic, say the AL West leaders. At least not yet.
Keuchel walked in two runs and hit a batter to force in another during a shaky sixth inning, and Oakland completed a sweep of Houston with a 10-2 victory Sunday.
”We got beat,” Hinch said. ”They did a lot of things right. A lot of walks, a lot of homers this series and a lot of late runs. We have to get to a different city and an off day and come out of it better.”
The Astros entered the day tied with Cleveland for the best record in the AL, but their pitching fell apart at the Coliseum. Oakland rallied from behind in each of the first three games of the series, including one in which Houston’s bullpen brought in five runs with bases-loaded walks.
Keuchel (12-4) never had a lead in the finale. He had allowed only two runs over 21 2/3 innings in three games against the A’s this season and was doing well again until the sixth, when he lost control and labored through a 40-pitch inning.
The left-hander gave up a leadoff single to Jed Lowrie, then walked three of the next four to push in the go-ahead run. Two batters after hitting Mark Canha with a bases-loaded pitch, Keuchel walked home another to extend Oakland’s lead to 4-1 and end his day. Keuchel allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings.
”It’s a funky game and September’s really weird at times,” Keuchel said. ”It just so happened that they hit some mistake pitches. They weren’t hitting quality, quality pitches. When we were making quality pitches, that’s when we were getting outs. But when you throw the ball down the middle or hang a breaking ball, major league hitters are going to do that.”
Keuchel admitted Houston might have overlooked the A’s, who trailed the Astros by 27 games going into the series. He thinks they’ll correct that attitude for a series at the Angels.
”I think you probably let your guard down a little bit just being a human being and seeing the large gap,” Keuchel said. ”But it’s not like we’re coming to the park not trying to win. It’s just a combination of a bunch of things and whether they’re a lot of little small things or just one big thing, they can get you in a hurry, just like today.
”That’s September baseball. It’s funky. We’ll right the ship. I firmly believe we’ll be back on our game come L.A. and finish this road trip strong.”
Oakland piled on against Houston’s bullpen with two runs in the seventh and four in the eighth.
Jose Altuve had two hits and J.D. Davis added a pinch-hit home run for the Astros. Houston was outscored in the four-game series 41-15.
The Astros frustrations boiled over in the fifth when Jake Marisnick was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Marisnick struck out looking twice and was upset the second time, angrily slamming his bat and helmet to the ground before getting thrown out by home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus.
Kendall Graveman (5-4) pitched five-hit ball over six innings and allowed one run for Oakland.
Matt Chapman, Ryon Healy, Boog Powell and Matt Olson homered as the A’s completed their second four-game sweep this year. It’s the second time in Oakland history that the team has swept a pair of four-game series in the same season.
”I’m not saying it was unexpected, but the fashion we did it was impressive,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. ”Really impressive. The guys are grinding every at-bat out and playing.”
Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh will skip his scheduled start Thursday because of a lingering fingernail issue on his pitching hand. Brad Peacock will pitch in McHugh’s place. … Juan Centeno is expected to miss a few days with a mild concussion after being hit in the facemask by Lowrie’s swing Saturday.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (11-8) faces the Angels on Tuesday in his second start with Houston since being acquired from Detroit. Verlander is 6-8 lifetime against the Angels.
Athletics: Following a day off Monday, LHP Sean Manaea (10-9, 4.33 ERA) pitches against Boston in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday.
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