Athletics' Mark Kotsay credits 'vintage' Lance McCullers in loss to Astros

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McCullers' 'vintage' performance quiets A's bats in loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Athletics' losing streak hit seven games following their 8-0 loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

Oakland's bats had an opportunity to jump on Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr., who made his 2022 season debut after coming off the 60-day injured list. The 28-year-old hadn't pitched since Oct. 12 after suffering a flexor tendon forearm strain.

However, McCullers Jr. pitched like he hadn't missed nearly a year of action, showing no signs of rust. McCullers went six innings in his return to the mound, allowing the A's lineup to record just two hits.

"Vintage McCullers," manager Mark Kotsay told reporters after the game. "I remember him before he was hurt. What he did to us, his breaking ball is one of the best in the game.

"We saw that tonight with a couple of lefties that he struck out looking with it, and it's got enough life on the fastball to keep you honest. For his first start back, he threw the ball really well."

Meanwhile, the A's had Zach Logue on the mound, who went 5 1/3 innings for Oakland. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old, it was a rough night after being called up on Saturday from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Logue surrendered six earned runs on eight hits in the loss and acknowledged why the Astros were able to get to him.

"My fastball command probably could have been a little bit better tonight," Logue told reporters.

"I thought it got better as the game went on, but early on missed a few spots, and then I was able to hone it in a little bit better as the game went on. But yeah, that's probably the biggest thing for me."

Despite the underwhelming result, the rest of the season is for players such as Logue, to learn on the job and also for the A's front office to see if the starting pitcher can become a building block for the team next season.

As a result, outings such as Saturday's loss in Houston are just trial and error for the 26-year-old to see what he needs to improve upon heading into next season.

"They've really been wanting me to work on my changeup," Logue added. "I feel like it's got good action to it, and if I keep my arms speed up, I think it sells it pretty well, especially because I am a guy that throws quite a few fastballs. So that's been the emphasis."

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Oakland will attempt to salvage a game in Houston on Sunday, sending Cole Irvin and his 2.92 ERA to the mound. Meanwhile, the Astros will counter with Cristian Javier, who has a 3.14 ERA, to help complete the sweep.