BY SEAN WATKINS
Houston abused the A’s beleaguered pitching staff for the third day in a row to start the season Saturday afternoon, riding a strong start by Lance McCullers and a monster three-run homer by Yordan Alvarez to romp past Oakland 9-1 at the Coliseum.
The Astros were able to limit the A’s offense to just three hits on the day and have now outscored Oakland 26-7 to start the season. Cole Irvin, in his first start with Oakland, looked shaky at times, giving up four runs on seven hits, and hitting two batters in 4 1/3 innings on the mound.
Still, the A’s kept it close until Irvin left the game in the 5th before the game was blown open when Lou Trivino gave up Alvarez’ blast to make it 5-1. Trivino found his command after giving up the home run, retiring the next seven batters, but the Astros bullpen was fantastic, surrendering just one hit and no runs through the final four innings.
Asked how much of his struggles were credited to the Astros offensive lineup, Irvin spoke on his first start of the season, “You never want to give a team too much credit. I battled myself today, that’s the bottom line. “I’m not happy with the performance. I know I can do better; I know I have done better as you saw in spring training.”
McCullers made it through five innings, giving up only two hits and one run with seven strikeouts. Matt Olson spoke about the performance from McCullers and the A’s struggles to get anything going with their offense: “After those first couple innings he was definitely a lot better with his command. Even when a guy is a little wild, his stuff is so good that it still plays. We just didn’t capitalize on a couple opportunities.”
The A’s made a late rally in the 8th inning, loading the bases with one out, but they were unable to capitalize and left the bases loaded.
Reymin Guduan came into the game for the A’s in the 9th and had a rough outing against his former team. Guduan gave up four runs as Chas McCormick, Aledmys Diaz and Kyle Tucker all contributed RBI’s to Houston’s late game surge.
“We’ve lost three games, it’s been ugly. We haven’t played well yet,” said Manager Bob Melvin.
Oakland will look to finally get into the win column Sunday in the last game of the series with José Urquidy on the mound for the Astros against Sean Manaea. Both will be making their season debuts.
Ramón Laureano remains day-to-day with a wrist injury. It’s not expected to land him on the Injured List.
Oakland’s season-opening three game losing streak is their worst start to a season in 25 years.
Houston is 3-0 for the first time since they won their first three games in 2017. If they win Sunday, they’ll be 4-0 for just the second time in the past two decades. The ‘01 club also won its first four.