|Extra-inning win boosts A's entering finale in Houston|
Oakland right-handed reliever Yusmeiro Petit delivered the sort of performance Tuesday that might yield benefits beyond the immediate result of the Athletics' 4-3, 11-inning win over the host Houston Astros.
With closer Liam Hendriks unavailable, Oakland manager Bob Melvin rode Petit for two critical frames during extra innings. Petit worked around a Marcus Semien error in the 10th inning before returning for the 11th and retiring the side in order to seal the victory, squaring the three-game series ahead of a rubber match on Wednesday.
By pitching so effectively in a high-leverage situation, Petit not only enabled the Athletics to survive without their All-Star closer, but he also allowed Melvin to preserve two other high-leverage relievers -- right-handers Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino -- to keep them fresh in the event they are needed in the series finale.
The Athletics can cut the deficit in the American League West to five games in the loss column should they saddle the Astros with a second consecutive defeat.
"He's got ice in his veins," Melvin said of Petit. "It's a difficult decision with Treinen and Trivino down there, but he looked like he was locating really well and knew where his pitches were going, and nothing really bothers him. It was a great outing, probably the best of the year for him with the consequences."
Right-hander Chris Bassitt (7-4, 3.96 ERA) will start Wednesday for the Athletics. He has pitched to a 5.14 ERA over his past 11 starts after going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA over his first five.
Bassitt is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA over four career appearances (three starts) against the Astros, including a no-decision in his lone start against Houston this season. He surrendered three runs on six hits and one walk over six innings in Oakland's 6-4, 12-inning defeat on June 2.
All-Star right-hander Justin Verlander (12-4, 2.99 ERA) will start the series finale for Houston. He is 13-6 with a 2.63 ERA over 21 career starts against Oakland.
Verlander allowed one run on four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over eight innings in a 5-1 win at Oakland on June 1. He allowed a solo home run (to right fielder Stephen Piscotty, currently on the 10-day injured list due to a sprained right knee) in that outing and has surrendered 28 homers this season, two shy of his career high of 30 allowed in 2016.
The 36-year-old veteran, who also allowed 28 homers in 2018, has posted only three starts this year in which he did not surrender a home run. Two of those appearances came away from Minute Maid Park.
The gopher ball played a role in the Astros blowing a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning Tuesday, with closer Roberto Osuna allowing a three-run home run to Athletics first baseman Matt Olson after Houston starter Wade Miley carried a shutout into the ninth.
Miley, who had not pitched beyond the seventh inning in his previous 20 starts this season, had thrown 98 pitches and was set to face the top of the Oakland order for the fourth time. He allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach base safely before being lifted for Osuna, who promptly coughed up the lead on an 0-2 fastball.
"Sometimes baseball will make you sick to your stomach, literally," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.
--Field Level Media