The Houston Astros seemed an unlikely bet to claim their second series sweep of the season when they entered the bottom of the eighth inning on Wednesday while facing a five-run deficit.
But in what might have been the clearest sign that things are taking a turn for the better, the Astros scored two runs in the eighth before a four-run rally in the ninth inning capped their 7-6 interleague victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Houston extended its winning streak to four games and moved a season-best five games over .500 in advance of a three-game home series against the Oakland Athletics starting Friday.
“I think it just shows the character of these guys, never stopping and continuing to fight,” said Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who finished 3-for-4 and scored the game-winning run on a two-run single by Kyle Tucker. “The offense just continued to battle.
“Experience helps. This team has come from behind before in games. You lean on that energy.”
Right-hander Brandon Bielak (0-1, 3.29 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Astros on Friday. He did not factor into the decision of the Astros’ 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on May 13 after allowing one run on eight hits with four strikeouts over five innings, marking the first time Bielak logged five innings since Aug. 17, 2020, against the Colorado Rockies.
Bielak will make his fifth career appearance (second start) versus Oakland, against whom he is 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA. He last faced the A’s on Sept. 24, 2021, when he allowed three runs on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts over three innings in a 14-2 road loss.
Rookie left-hander Ken Waldichuk (1-2, 7.02 ERA) will start the series opener for the A’s. After taking the loss in each of his first two starts while allowing 14 runs on 17 hits over 8 2/3 innings, he is 1-0 with a 5.01 ERA over his six subsequent starts.
Waldichuk has been the starting pitcher in five of the Oakland’s 10 wins this season and is 1-1 with a 9.15 ERA in four road starts. He had a no-decision in Oakland’s 9-7 win on May 12 after allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and five walks with five strikeouts over five innings.
Waldichuk is 0-1 with a 16.88 ERA in one road start against the Astros after allowing five runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings of an 11-2 loss last Sept. 18.
The A’s dropped the deciding game of their three-game interleague series with the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 on Wednesday, resulting in their third consecutive series loss. Oakland is 1-13 in series play this season.
One positive development from the loss to Arizona was the performance of rookie right-hander Luis Medina, who allowed three runs on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings in what was his second consecutive quality start since his recall from Triple-A Las Vegas. Medina was roughed up by the Los Angeles Angels in his major league debut on April 26 but has since shown signs of his potential as a starter despite questions about his rotation fit.
“These couple starts that we’ve seen the stuff is there,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “He’s got multiple weapons to pitch with, which is needed as a starter.
“And the mentality is great, the work ethic is there, so obviously from his standpoint, it’s going out there and performing, which he’s done.”
–Field Level Media
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