Mark Kotsay says command top priority for Athletics pitchers after latest loss

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Kotsay: Command top priority for A's after loss to Astros originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Athletics fell 5-0 to the Houston Astros on Friday at Minute Maid Park, but the final stat line might be misleading due to the dominance displayed by one player: Yordan Álvarez.

Álvarez had Adrián Martínez's number at the plate. The 25-year-old went off for a hat-trick, hitting three home runs off the A's starting pitcher, and he took advantage of the lack of command from Martínez, who is coming off a recent liner off his left shoulder.

Despite Oakland playing out the last handful of games until the end of the 2022 MLB season, they can't simply look ahead to 2023 just yet. So whether it's the lineup showing fight or A's starting pitchers putting together strong outings, these final contests still serve as learning lessons.

"I think for a lot of our young starting pitchers, command is where they get beat," A's manager Mark Kotsay told reporters in Houston after the game. "And I think that's in general, for pitching, execution of location is at this level, it's top priority.

"We saw that tonight on the other side with a veteran pitcher who knows how to locate and disrupt timing. And ultimately, as these guys get more time here and get more experience on the mound for our young starters, I think they've already realized the importance of location."

Giving up four home runs, including one to Jeremy Pena, in a game isn't a good feeling for any starting pitcher, so despite being a young player trying to solidify his place in the major leagues, Martínez knows what lessons he can take from his outing, whether they're good or bad.

"Just continue to focus," Martínez told reporters through a translator. "Just continuing to learn and focusing on the outing. Outing by outing.

"Making sure that continue to analyze the batters and focusing on the batters as well. And just continue to visualize what I'm trying to do."

RELATED: Garcia continues to make 2023 case in A's loss to Astros

If Martínez sticks around in Oakland, the 25-year-old will see a lot of Álvarez due to their AL West division matchups. The A's starting pitcher will need to learn how to command his pitches to get these power hitters out.

Oakland will attempt to snap its two-game losing streak when Cole Irvin (8-11, 3.73 ERA) takes the mound on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Astros will counter with José Urquidy to get the third win of the series.