HOUSTON – With their line-up at full strength for the first time in more than two months, the Houston Astros did an offensive show against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
"If we are healthy, we are the best team in baseball," said third baseman Alex Bregman.
Bregman and Tyler White homered and drove in four runs each, and the Astros came to an 11-4 victory over the Athletics. It was the sixth consecutive victory for first place Astros, who moved to Oakland for 2 1/2 matches in the AL West.
George Springer and Jose Altuve helped the victory and drove in a run each during a five-run third inning that trailed an early 4-0 deficit. This was the first game that Springer, Altuve and Carlos Correa had together in the line-up since June 25. Springer, who sews on Sunday, missed the previous five games with a quadriceps-injury.
"If we go well, we have this extensive line-up, this long line-up where it does not matter where we are, we're a threat, we've shown that again tonight," said manager AJ Hinch. "So it certainly felt good that the guys were performing staged and crazy good at-bats."
The Astros was led by 1 with two on and one out in the eighth inning when Bregman, who made a career high with four hits, sent a pitch from Lou Trivino just over the short fence in the leftfield to push the score to 8 -4. White made it 11-4 with two outs in the inning when he launched an Emilio Pagan fastball on the train tracks on top of the leftfield for another three runs.
The Athletics jumped on starter Gerrit Cole (12-5) for four runs behind a two-run homer by Marcus Semien in the second and a run of two runs made by Matt Chapman in the third. The homer of Chapman was the 21st after he twice got a homerun.
Cole settled after the difficult early innings to throw three scoreless frames and reach his second consecutive victory. He gave up four hits and retired eight to lead team-mate Justin Verlander (229) and in first place in the AL with 234 strikeouts.
Trailing 4-0, the Astros picked up a single by Martin Maldonado off Brett Anderson (3-4) with one out in the third inning before Springer narrowed the lead to 4-1 with a double on leftfield. Bregman followed with a double and sent another run home. Altuve then hit a third street-double in the leftfield, then scored Bregman and retired Houston within 4-3.
An RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, which ended with three hits, with two outs in the inning followed by Anderson. Yusmeiro Petit was greeted with a single by White, which Gonzalez scored to raise the Astros 5-4.
"The five-point inning session gave them some momentum and we just could not do anything offensive against them," said manager Bob Melvin.
Anderson was disappointed that he again had a tough fight against the Astros after ten hits and nine runs – both high days – to allow in three innings of a loss of 16-2 for them on May 7.
"They are a good team with a good attitude and have everyone at full strength again", he said. "I just could not stop the bleeding, it's a pity that I've had two real (bad) outings against the team we're chasing."
ROOM OF THE ROOM
Astros: C Brian McCann (knee surgery) will return to Houston Tuesday after completing a rehabilitation assignment, and the team will decide if he wants to activate him in the coming days or wait until Saturday when the grids expand. … RHP Chris Devenski (left arm of the hamstring) will play in a rehabilitation game for Double-A Corpus Christi on Thursday.
SURE TO SEE
Just before his homerun in the eighth inning, there was a delay during the at bat by White as he had a problem with one of his contacts.
"Normally I can clear it up quickly and I could not get it, so I got some moisturizing drops to clean it up," he said. "Then I had to take off my glove and gladly move everything all over my eye to get it right."
Then he was able to see clearly, and that showed when he connected with his ninth homer this season.
WHAT A RELIEF
Daniel Mengden, who was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Monday, gave up four hits in four scoreless innings to help Oakland's loaded bullpen. It was his first relief in the majors after 37 career doctors and could some time be his only with Melvin, saying that there is a possibility that he can participate in the rotation again after this series.
Houston's Charlie Morton (13-3, 3.05 ERA) is against Edwin Jackson of Oakland (4-3, 2.97) when the series continues on Tuesday-evening. Morton, who got his first victory since July 31st, can make a career high for victories.