Valencia gives A's wild walk-off win over Astros
OAKLAND -- Danny Valencia drove in Josh Phegley with a walk-off single, sending the A's to a come-from-behind, series-clinching 5-4 win over the slumping Astros at the Coliseum on Sunday.
"We got a giftwrapped present from Toronto, I promise you that," A's starter Chris Bassitt said of Valencia. "My goodness. How he got [designated for assignment] is shocking to every single person on this team, including coaches. I don't know how we got him. I really don't. He is unreal."
Valencia also hit a solo smash in the fourth inning for the A's, who rallied in the eighth before the bullpen blew the lead in the ninth. Then the A's came back again, as Josh Reddick brought home Mark Canha with an infield single and Valencia delivered the walk-off and sent the fans into a frenzy.
It was a crushing loss for the Astros, who got a three-run homer from Colby Rasmus in the ninth to take a 4-3 lead (they were 2-for-23 with runners in scoring position prior to that), but closer Luke Gregerson couldn't finish it off as Houston lost for the 14th time in its last 16 road games.
"We've had a rough week, but you've got to play 27 outs, you've got to play them all," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "You've got to earn them and we're finding it difficult to finish games on both ends. There's so much that goes into the end of the game that makes us feel terrible right now, but that whole game, I felt like we had a few opportunities late, but only two base runners in the first five or six innings. So many storylines in that game that ended up not being in our favor."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Colby's Jack nearly saves day: The Astros' struggles to hit with runners in scoring position were washed away in one mighty swing of the bat by Rasmus, whose 14th homer -- a three-run blast in the ninth -- gave them the lead in the ninth. The Astros were 2-for-23 with runners in scoring position in the series before Rasmus demolished a 3-2 pitch from Edward Mujica.
"I love the fight in this team," Hinch said. "I know it doesn't feel good right now. I know this has been one of the tougher stretches. We've had a couple of these, but we'll play the whole season. We'll bounce back. We will get through this because of the way we played come out and played."
Bassitt Hound: Bassitt struck out a career-high 10, shattering his previous personal best of seven. The right-hander's strikeout total has stayed the same or increased every start this year (three, three, three, four, six, seven, 10). He retired 11 in a row at one point, striking out the side in the fifth. The Astros' lone run off Bassitt came in the sixth, when Altuve scored from first on a double by Correa. Phegley couldn't handle Brett Lawrie's throw, and Bassitt was visibly frustrated with the sequence.
"He was dropping his curveball in, throwing the slider for a strike, mixing in the changeup, as well as an electric fastball," Phegley said. "You can see the confidence he has on the mound and the energy. It's fun to watch." More >
Bullpen breakdown: The Astros' bullpen, which has been one of the best in the Majors all season, gave up four runs and seven hits in two innings in relief of Mike Fiers, who pitched well in his Houston debut. Will Harris allowed two runs in the eighth, and a snake-bit Gregerson gave up two runs in the ninth, including the game-winner. More >
Valen-see ya: Valencia's homer was his second of the series and gave the A's a 1-0 lead. The walk-off hit was the fifth of his career, and he finished the four-game set against the Astros -- his first full series with Oakland -- 7-for-16 with two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs. More >
"Obviously, it's the highest of highs, followed by the lowest of lows," -- Hinch, on the ninth inning
"It was a roller coaster. Obviously, closing is tough so you know that there's ups and downs in closing. We were resilient to come back and then kind of give it up there a little bit and then come back again." -- Valencia, on the ninth inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Jose Altuve's eighth-inning walk was his first since July 21.
Each of the A's starters allowed one run in the four-game series, and they've yielded one run or fewer in eight of the last 10 games.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Fiers threw over to first to check on Burns in the third inning after Burns singled with two outs. Burns was initially called safe, but after review the call was overturned, ending the inning.
Stephen Vogt tried to steal second in the fifth, and Jason Castro threw him out. The call was confirmed.
Astros: The Astros are off on Monday, but won't have to travel far as they prepare for their next series. Houston will go across the Bay to open a two-game Interleague Series against the Giants at 9:15 p.m. CT Tuesday at AT&T Park. Lefty Scott Kazmir, who is second in the American League in ERA, will make his fourth start with the Astros, for whom he's 1-1 with a 0.44 ERA.
Athletics: The A's have an off day Monday as well, and they'll open a three-game series with the red-hot Blue Jays in Toronto on Tuesday at 4:07 p.m. PT. Kendall Graveman (6-7, 3.90) will pitch for the A's, looking for his first win since July 4. Graveman gave up three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 7-3 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday. .
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