A series against the Houston Astros would typically carry significant weight. With the Oakland A’s eliminated from postseason contention, the Astros snatching their American League West division crown a night before, this final series might seem that it carries little consequence. But players have unfinished business to attend to.
One of those players is Matt Olson, who hit his 39th home run en route to the A’s 8-6 win on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
Olson’s 154 games played leads the team, but wasn’t planning to take a day to rest. Matt Chapman, who has played 150 game, took a break to rest his banged-up muscles. Though he may not be able to keep pace with MLB’s leaders, Olson has a shot to reach 40 home runs this weekend.
His 39th home run off Houston starter Framber Valdez, a two-run home run, was also his 22nd home run off a left-handed pitcher. That puts him in elite company, now having hit one more home run as a left-handed hitter off a left-handed pitcher than Barry Bonds in 2002 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998 and 1996.
That also puts him behind Cecil Fielder in 1990 and Dick Allen in 1966, whose 25 home runs in a single season off left-handed pitchers leads all of MLB. With two games remaining, Olson may not have time to reach the record, but he’s in impressive company.
Sean Manaea finished off his season with a bang, allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings. He departed the sixth inning at 103 pitches, unable to get the last out. With a runner on, Jake Meyers ripped a two-strike changeup off the wall below the Crawford boxes for an RBI double, cutting an A’s 4-1 lead to 4-2. Jake Diekman extinguished the fire out of the bullpen.
Chad Pinder, the A’s hottest hitter in September, helped generate a couple of the A’s other runs. His opposite field home run gave the A’s a 1-0 lead early. In the eighth inning, with Starling Marte at second base and the infield playing in, Marwin Gonzalez made a bad throw on Pinder’s ground ball up the middle, allowing Marte to score and Pinder to take second base. Seth Brown’s pinch-hit single off Cristian Javier scored Pinder from second. Then Tony Kemp hit a ground-rule double to score Yan Gomes, who had walked earlier in the inning.
Another bad throw by Gonzalez at second gave recent call-up Pete Kozma a free bag, and scored another run and forced Javier out of the game.
Speaking of Marte, he snapped a 0-for-his-last-9 skid with a hit to set the table for Olson’s heroics. He stole two bases in the game, now at 47 stolen bases on the season.
This A’s game followed a familiar theme, though, with the bullpen allowing the Astros back into the game. Yusmeiro Petit gave up a trio of hits and was pulled with one out for Deolis Guerra, who gave up a second-deck, three-run home run to Jason Castro that put Houston down two runs.
Lou Trivino took the ninth inning and gave up a lead-off double to Yordan Alvarez and walked Carlos Correa. Trivino struck out pinch hitter Jose Altuve for the first out of the inning. A soft ground ball to Trivino notched the second out and advanced the runners into scoring position. Meyers grounded out to third to end the game and the drama.
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Author: Shayna Rubin