When Chris Bassitt has pitched at the Oakland Coliseum this year, he’s looked as dominant as anybody on the A’s pitching staff. That success has not carried over on the road.
Bassitt surrendered two home runs and turned in his shortest outing of the season as the A’s fell to the Astros with a 4-2 loss in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Minute Maid Park.
The tale of two Bassitts continues. The right-hander holds a stellar 1.62 ERA in three home starts. But after four starts away from the Coliseum, Bassitt’s ERA is up to 5.49 on the road. All five of his home runs allowed have come in his road starts.
Bassitt dug himself an early hole by giving up a three-run shot to Kyle Tucker in the first. Making the opening frame even more frustrating, the damage done to Bassitt came with two outs. After retiring George Springer and Jose Altuve to begin his outing, Bassitt allowed a walk and a double before Tucker’s blast.
“He was just a little off with his command,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He was falling behind some and all of a sudden it’s 3-0. In a short game, we couldn’t give him too much rope.”
A leadoff homer by Josh Reddick in the fourth spelled the end for Bassitt, who was pulled shortly after, finishing his day allowing four runs on six hits and three walks over three-plus innings.
Matt Chapman was responsible for the only scoring the A’s could put together against Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. The A’s third baseman drove in both of the team’s runs on a groundout and single.
The A’s scattered six hits against McCullers and were limited to two runs (one earned) against the right-hander.
“McCullers has been tough on us before,” Melvin said. “He very rarely gives you a fastball to hit. It’s a lot of breaking balls in fastball counts. He mixed it up pretty well and when you have to be aware of his breaking ball, his fastball plays better.”
Lou Trivino kept the A’s in the game with another solid effort out of the bullpen. Taking over for Bassitt with two runners on and no outs in the fourth, the right-hander retired Springer, Altuve and Michael Brantley in order, then came back out for the fifth and turned in another scoreless frame.
Looking to regain his 2018 form that saw him evolve into an elite reliever as a rookie, Trivino is slowly working his way back into high leverage situations this season. Saturday’s effort marked his seventh consecutive scoreless appearance, lowering his ERA to 2.93 on the year.
“I was joking with him a minute ago, that’s what we made him do in '18 all the time, coming in with runners on base and pitching the next inning,” Melvin said. “He’s been pitching very well and deserves this role and excelled in it again. He’s gaining more confidence every time we put him in a tough situation.
“The offspeed stuff is working for him. It makes his fastball play better. He threw a 2-0 changeup for a strike. That’s something he’s maybe not used to doing.”