OAKLAND — Bring back the New York Yankees.
A day after completing a four-game series sweep against the Bronx Bombers in front of big, supportive crowds, the A’s dropped a quiet 4-1 decision to the Houston Astros Monday night in front of an even quieter Coliseum crowd numbering a mere 10,482.
It was the third smallest crowd of the year for the A’s, a big comedown after topping the 30,000 mark for three straight days against New York. It was a comedown on the field, too, as the A’s managed just four hits against Brad Peacock and three relievers and struck out 13 times in the process.
The Astros, who own baseball’s best record at 47-24, ran their 5-1 against Oakland in 2017 but had to work for it against rookie Daniel Gossett, who was making his second career start. Battered for six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings by Miami in his major-league debut, the 24-year-old right-hander had a nice rebound effort. He pitched shutout ball into fifth inning against high-powered Houston, and was one pitch from getting out unscatched.
But No. 9 hitter Jake Marsnick connected on a 2-2 pitch with a runner at third base and sent it sailing high and deep over the center field wall to give the Astros a 2-0 lead. It was the only blemish on his night, but ultimately a costly one. Gossett (0-2) wound up pitching 6 2/3 innings, allowing just those two runs while not walking a batter and striking out six. On most nights, especially the way the A’s have been smacking the ball of late, that should have netted him his first victory.
Oakland, however, could never get the bats going against Peacock, who was once A’s property but never actually pitched for them in the big leagues. Peacock (4-1) went 5 2/3 innings and allowed just four hits and one run while walking one and striking out eight.
The A’s had one big chance at a rally in the sixth. After Adam Rosales opened by striking out, Matt Joyce doubled to right, Chad Pinder walked and Jed Lowrie hit a shot into the right-center gap that appeared to tie the game. Joyce scored easily, but Pinder was cut down at the plate when right fielder George Springer made a terrific cutoff on the ball and shortstop Carlos Correa made a brilliant relay throw to home plate. After Khris Davis walked, reliever Will Harris retired Yonder Alonso on a grounder to second and the A’s went meekly from there.
Houston padded its lead with Springer’s 20th home run of the year off A’s right-hander John Axford, and Derek Fisher hit his second homer of the season off the A’s fourth pitcher, Josh Smith.