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  • Brian L. Barefield

Oh, So Close Astros bullpen comes up short in loss to A’s.


Photo Credit/Houston Astros

Los Angeles- On Wednesday, the Oakland A’s did the only thing they knew how to do with their backs against the walls. They came out swinging and swinging and swinging. Well you get the point by now. The A’s hit five homeruns on their way to a 9-7 win over the Astros in Game 3 of the ALDS at Dodger Stadium.

Oakland (1-2) still trails Houston (2-1) in the series 2-1, but the 2020 American League West division winners are in an uphill battle to win the series and advance to the American League Championship Series. They will try and repeat what the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals did on last season by overcoming 2-1 deficits to win a best-of-five series.

“They just beat us today,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker. "We're still in the lead. This team has been there before. These guys don't seem real worried about it. We got beat today. We made some mistakes. Hopefully we don't make those mistakes tomorrow."

It was four costly mistakes by Astros starting pitcher Jose Urquidy that kept Houston fighting from letting the game get out of hand early. He gave up four solo homeruns before exiting the game in the fifth inning trailing 4-2.

Houston responded by sending 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth that produced five-runs to take a 7-4 lead. Aledmys Diaz got things going by hitting a two-run homer to tie the game and an RBI single by Jose Altuve drove the leading run across the plate. It was Altuve’s third hit of the game including an earlier homerun to left-center field. He has now hit 14 post season homeruns since 2017, which is the second-most in that time frame trailing his teammate George Springer who has 16.



Photo Credit/Houston Astros

One of the bright spots for the Astros this postseason has been their toughness from the sixth inning. In four previous games Houston had not allowed a run in the last four innings of each game. That was largely due to the effectiveness of their bullpen. Heading into the top of the seventh inning of Game 3, the relievers had pitched 18 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball.

All that changed by one quick swing of the bat when A’s hitter Chad Pinder hit a three-run shot off of Astros reliever Josh James that tied the game at 7. That reenergized an Oakland team that had been very quiet for most of the day and they would add two more runs off of Brooks Raley in the eighth inning to take the lead for good.

"It's tough, but everybody wants to get put in that situation," A very dejected James said in his postgame press conference. "You always feel like you're the right guy for the job. You go out and no matter how long it's been, you compete, and today I just got beat. It's part of the game and tomorrow's another day and another opportunity. You have to be ready for that and wipe the slate clean today."

Oakland’s closer Liam Hendriks pitched three innings of scoreless baseball to get the win. He didn’t know if his services would be needed or not earlier in the game, but he was ready and available if they did and wasn’t coming out until the game was over.

"Once our backs are against the wall, suddenly everything changes," Hendriks said. "I wasn't coming out of the game," he said. "They were going to have to wrench the ball out of my hand."

Game 4 is Thursday at Dodger Stadium.