Athletics try to break through against Astros
The Houston Astros go for an 11th straight win overall and fifth straight over the Oakland Athletics when the American League West rivals complete a two-game series Wednesday night in Oakland, Calif.
After outscoring the A's just 18-10 during a three-game sweep in Houston earlier this month, the Astros pounded last year's division runner-up 9-1 in the series opener on Tuesday.
Left-hander Wade Miley (1-1, 3.45) will go for his third win during the winning streak when he duels Oakland righty Frankie Montas (2-1, 3.18).
Miley pitched the only blowout of the earlier series in Houston, shutting out the A's for 5 2/3 innings in a 6-0 win.
He hasn't been nearly as effective in his other two starts, allowing three runs in each, including a four-inning effort in his last outing, a 10-6 win at Seattle on Friday.
Pitching for Boston, Baltimore and now Houston, Miley has dominated the A's over the years, never having allowed more than two earned runs in any of his six starts. He's gone 5-1 in those games with a 1.40 ERA.
He has been almost untouchable in his three career starts in Oakland, going 2-1 with a 0.92 ERA.
Among the A's who have little or nothing to show for their head-to-heads with Miley is Ramon Laureano, a former Astro who went 0-for-2 in the earlier matchup.
Laureano was one of the few Oakland hitters who reached base in Tuesday's drubbing, drawing a pair of walks in three plate appearances.
It's not his bat that impresses Astros manager A.J. Hinch most.
"He's got a great feel for when he needs to make the big throw," Hinch said of the defensive standout the Astros dealt to Oakland in 2017 for minor-leaguer Brandon Bailey. "And I think we have to always honor that."
One thing Laureano couldn't do Tuesday was jump high enough to prevent Houston home runs by Josh Reddick, George Springer and Alex Bregman, the latter a grand slam.
Those came off Marco Estrada and Liam Hendriks. On Wednesday, the Astros will have to deal with Montas, against whom they scored just twice in five innings in a 3-2 win in the series opener in Houston.
Carlos Correa had a homer against Montas in that game.
Montas has gone 1-2 with a 5.89 ERA in five career appearances, including three starts, against the Astros.
Some of the best swings the A's took Tuesday night came before the game, when injured first baseman Matt Olson grabbed a bat two-handed for the first time since surgery on his right hand on March 22.
Olson is scheduled to be out at least until the start of May, and A's manager Bob Melvin noted that swinging at air with a fungo did not indicate that his slugger will be back in the lineup anytime soon.
"I think we're right on schedule with him," Melvin told reporters before the game. "I know he's pretty eager to face some pitching, but it's going to be a little more time before we do that."
Olson probably would be in no hurry to face Miley, against whom he's gone 0-for-2 with a strikeout in his career.
--Field Level MediaHome