OAKLAND -- Hey, these new guys can play a little bit, too.
With several of their key players on the injured list, the Astros used clutch contributions from three players who were brought up from Triple-A within the last week, led by Derek Fisher blasting a tiebreaking homer to lead off the eighth inning to beat the A’s, 3-2, in Friday night’s series opener at Oakland Coliseum.
“This was a huge team win with not a lot of hits, but the right hits at the right time,” Fisher said.
Fisher, called up Saturday after All-Star outfielder George Springer went on the injured list with a strained left hamstring, crushed a first-pitch fastball off Lou Trivino to start the eighth and sailed it over the head of Oakland center fielder Ramon Laureano, clearing the wall in left-center for his first homer this year.
“I knew I hit it hard and I know Ramon tends to pull some crazy plays out of nowhere,” Fisher said. “Thankfully the ball didn’t find a glove, and even better that it got over the wall.”
In the seventh, the Astros tied the game on a homer by Josh Reddick and an RBI double by Tony Kemp, who scored speedy pinch-runner Myles Straw from first base. Straw, who was running for Tyler White (walk), was appearing in his first big league game this season after being called up Wednesday to replace injured shortstop Carlos Correa.
“Watching those guys make those plays in this kind of game. This team is winning games any way you can,” Straw said.
Then there was Jack Mayfield, who entered the game at shortstop to start the seventh inning and made a terrific diving stop of a Marcus Semien grounder in the bottom of the inning with a runner on third and the infield in, saving a run in a tie game. Mayfield was called up Monday to replace injured infielder Aledmys Diaz.
“It was awesome how pumped everyone else was for me and it really made me feel good,” Mayfield said. “I was just happy this team came away with the win. Fisher with the big home run. This team is awesome to be on. I’m just glad to be able to help out.”
Mayfield gave credit to bench coach Joe Espada, who had Mayfield taking ground balls at different positions on the infield five hours before the game.
“He’s like, ‘You’re not playing today but there’s always a chance to go in,’” Mayfield said. “I give credit to him and all those extra ground balls. These playing surfaces here are amazing, and I love that, too.”
Not writing in the names of Jose Altuve, Correa, Springer and Diaz is not ideal for Astros manager AJ Hinch, but he’s impressed with how others are eager to contribute .
“They’re doing everything they can to make a good impression,” Hinch said. “They’re really happy to be in the big leagues, obviously. There’s a lot of talent in this organization. We built that depth and it’s coming in handy right now. The players are putting the work in.”
“They made a couple of key plays,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Kemp made a key play at second on a ground ball up the middle [in the eighth], and when you get in close games late, defensive plays end up being huge. They had a couple.”