The A's are in trouble.
After a lackluster Game 1 to open the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, the A’s fell flat again in Game 2 and are now on the brink of elimination.
Astros starter Framber Valdez pitched seven solid innings, yielding just a pair of solo home runs as Houston came away with the 5-2 victory. Oakland pitchers once again struggled to get George Springer out and their bats stayed silent for a second straight game.
Here are three things to know as the A’s fall to 0-2 in the series and face a must-win game Wednesday afternoon.
Keep it in the yard
A lot has been made about the way the ball is flying out of the park at Dodger Stadium. It’s turned the series into a battle of who can hit the most home runs, and the A’s are losing the fight.
Springer hit a pair of bombs, one off or starter Sean Manaea and the other off of reliever Yusmiero Petit. He’s destroyed the A’s over the first two games of the series, going 6-for-9 with two home runs and four runs driven in.
Springer wasn’t the only Astros hitter to go yard. Martin Maldonado ended Manaea’s day with a one-out shot in the fifth. This was the second straight game the Astros offense was buoyed by three home runs.
In the opener of the series, the A’s stranded six runners in scoring position. In Game 2, they couldn’t even get a runner to second base.
Outside of solo shots from Chad Pinder and Khris Davis, the A’s offense tallied just four singles and a walk against Astros pitchers. Valdez induced 11 ground outs and struck out four over his seven innings, allowing just four fly balls, including the pair of homers from Pinder and Davis.
If the A’s can’t find a way to get base runners, this series will be over soon.
Mike Minor has spent most of his nine-year major league career as a starter, outside of the 2017 season with the Kansas City Royals. When the A’s acquired him on Aug. 31, their rotation was scuffling a bit and they needed starter depth.
With the A’s rotation set heading into the playoffs, Bob Melvin has asked Minor to come out of the pen, and he’s been lights out, although in a losing cause. For the second straight game, Minor quieted the Astros bats, finishing his two-inning stint with no hits and a strikeout.
It’s all hands on deck for Oakland and Minor kept the red-hot Astros at bay. Unfortunately for the A's, their bats never woke up.