Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ultimate MLB Show April 14, 2015


Giants' Hudson faces Rockies seeking home success

Giants righty Tim Hudson survived five walks (one intentional) but threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Padres in his season debut last week. Now he has to make AT&T Park his home. After going 5-5 with a 3.94 ERA by the bay last season, Hudson starts Tuesday night against the Rockies and righty Christian Bergman -- who seems to like pitching at AT&T Park and facing the Giants.
Three things to know about this game
• Bergman was 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA and the team was 2-0 in his two starts against the Giants last season. But he'll have to watch Buster Posey, who is 4-for-5 with a home run, a double and four RBIs against him. Bergman is in the rotation because lefty Jorge De La Rosa is still recovering from left groin tightness that marred his Spring Training.
• Giants outfielder Nori Aoki singled to open the first inning Monday to extend his career-best hit streak to 16 games.
• Both leadoff men should enter this game confidently. The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon is 5-for-16 with a double, but four strikeouts, against Hudson.

Huff set for Dodgers debut against Mariners' Iwakuma

Left-hander David Huff will make his Dodgers debut on Tuesday against the Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma in the middle game of a three-game Interleague series at Dodger Stadium. Huff didn't start the year on the 25-man roster, as the Dodgers opened the year with just four starters, but he'll be added Tuesday prior to the 7:10 p.m. PT start.
This is first Interleague series between these teams at Dodger Stadium since 2009.
Things to know about this game:
• Iwakuma got off to a bad start in his season debut, allowing five runs in the first two frames against the Angels, though he recovered well enough to last six innings with just the five runs (four earned) allowed in a 5-3 loss. The 33-year-old is 38-21 with a 3.11 ERA in four seasons with Seattle. This will be his third time facing the Dodgers, but his first as a starter. He allowed one earned run in 3 2/3 innings over a pair of relief outings in 2012. The '13 American League All-Star is 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in his last four Interleague starts.
• Huff pitched 46 games in relief for the Yankees and Giants last season (4-1, 3.36 ERA in 59 innings) and now makes his first Major League start since 2013 with the Yankees. The 30-year-old is 0-3 in three career starts against the Mariners with a 10.64 ERA in 11 innings. He's filling in for the injured left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder impingement.
• Third baseman Juan Uribe is expected to be back in the Dodgers' lineup after sitting out the past two games with some tightness in his left hamstring, while shortstop Jimmy Rollins will also be back at it after a day off Monday. On the Mariners' side, Austin Jackson will be back starting in center field after manager Lloyd McClendon rested him for the first time this season on Monday.

Hellickson looking to get on board in start vs. Padres

The D-backs and Padres continue their three-game series Tuesday night at Petco Park with Jeremy Hellickson taking the mound for the D-backs against Odrisamer Despaigne.
This will be Hellickson's second start for the D-backs after being acquired last November in a deal with the Rays. The right-hander struggled with his command in his season-opening start last Thursday against the Giants, allowing three runs on nine hits and a pair of walks in just 4 1/3 innings of work.
Despaigne is taking the place of former D-backs pitcher Ian Kennedy after Kennedy suffered a strained hamstring last Thursday. Despaigne, who started 16 games for the Padres last year, came on in relief of Kennedy in that game and tossed 4 2/3 hitless innings.
Things to know about this game
• This will be Hellickson's first career appearance at Petco Park. He faced the Padres once in 2013, and allowed six runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings.
• Despaigne was very good pitching at Petco Park a year ago, posting a 1.83 ERA in eight starts.
• D-backs manager Chip Hale will continue to rotate Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings and Aaron Hill in the middle infield to try and keep them all involved.
• Kennedy is two or three days from returning to a mound for a bullpen session, his first step back after straining his hamstring.

Graveman looks to bounce back, take series in Houston

Hoping to rebound from a forgettable first outing, Oakland right-hander Kendall Graveman is set to take the mound for the second game of a three-game set between the A's and Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday evening.
Astros right-hander Asher Wojciechowski was slated to oppose him, but he pitched out of the bullpen in Monday's opener. Wojciechowski was optioned to make room for a returning Brad Peacock, who will make his 2015 debut against Graveman and the A's.
Graveman, who made five relief appearances for Toronto last season, was knocked around for eight runs (seven earned) in just 3 1/3 innings against the Rangers in his first career start on Thursday. This will be his first career appearance against Houston.
• Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie, who had a routine day off Monday, will return to the field Tuesday for a start against his former A's club. Lowrie spent each of the previous two seasons as the everyday shortstop in Oakland, before returning to Houston on a three-year, $23 million deal this offseason.
• A's manager Bob Melvin seems to have found a stable No. 2 hitter in rookie Mark Canha, who has hit safely in each of his first six games of his career. Canha, who notched an RBI double in his first at-bat of Monday's opener, will likely be back hitting second Tuesday.

Pair of 5s square off for Angels and Rangers

Nick Martinez began the season as the Rangers' fifth starter, but is quickly moving up the pecking order after throwing seven scoreless innings against the Athletics on Thursday. Drew Rucinski is the Angels' fifth starter, but that may only be a temporary situation.
The two No. 5s will face each other on Tuesday night, when the Rangers host the Angels. Martinez, beginning his second big league season, is coming off one of the best starts of his career, having held the Athletics to four hits and two walks while striking out five.
Rucinski will be making his first Major League start, and is holding down a spot in the rotation until Garrett Richards comes off the disabled list later this month. Rucinski, who threw two scoreless innings out of the bullpen on Saturday, pitched twice in relief against the Rangers last season and allowed four runs in five innings.
Three things to know about this game:
• Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun is expected to be back in the lineup after not starting two straight games because of a strained right calf. He is 3-for-8 with a home run off Martinez.
• Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is 23rd all-time in doubles, with 564. Former Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez is 22nd on the list, with 572.
• The Rangers are close to activating right-handed reliever Tanner Scheppers (sprained right ankle) off the disabled list. He should return either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Arrieta looks to take series from Reds at home

Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta flirted with no-hitters twice against the Reds last season, something that club will certainly be working to avoid on Tuesday at Wrigley Field. Like Arrieta, Cincinnati right-hander Anthony DeSclafani will be making his second start of the season.
Things to know about this game:
• Arrieta, who threw seven scoreless innings in his first start of 2015 vs. the Cardinals on Wednesday, was 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA vs. the Reds last season. He took no-hitters into the seventh inning twice. He tossed a complete-game one-hitter with a career-high 13 strikeouts vs. Cincinnati on Sept. 16.
• The Reds expect to have center fielder and leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton back in the starting lineup on Tuesday. Hamilton did not start on Monday because of a sore left index finger.
• Reds All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco is day to day with discomfort in his left hip. Mesoraco underwent a MRI exam on Monday in Cincinnati.

Harvey set for Citi Field return in matchup with Phils

Matt Harvey made a triumphant return from Tommy John surgery in his season debut, tossing six shutout innings in New York's 6-3 win over Washington on Thursday. Harvey returns to Queens on Tuesday as the Mets continue their series vs. the Phillies, who will counter with David Buchanan.
"Your home crowd is always behind you," said Harvey, who received a huge ovation from the Citi Field crowd during introductions before Monday's home opener. "For me, they've been great. They've always been extremely supportive and very uplifting for me. We're all excited to be home, and I'm specifically excited to pitch."
He's not alone. Met fans waited 593 days for the return of the pitcher who electrified as a callup in 2012 and captivated as a rookie before injuring his elbow in late 2013.
Three things to know about this game:
• Buchanan has not beaten the Mets in three career starts, but has held New York's current projected lineup to a .189 batting average against in 53 at-bats. David Wright (3-for-10) has had the most success against the 25-year-old righty, while Curtis Granderson (0-for-7) and Lucas Duda (1-for-9) have struggled against him.
• Mets manager Terry Collins will try to keep Harvey's pitch count below 100 once again as the 26-year old righty continues to build back strength and stamina. Harvey needed just 91 pitches in his debut to strike out nine and limit the Nationals to four hits over six innings. But he humbly called that performance "not good enough" and said he's looking for a "refined" effort Tuesday. "If I'm going to throw 90 pitches, I would like to get at least into the seventh," he said.
• It will be Harvey's first home start since Aug. 24, 2013, when he took a 3-0 loss to Detroit. Harvey is 4-5 in 18 career starts at Citi Field, where he owns a 1.89 ERA in 124 innings pitched. He has dominated the Phillies in his career with a 4-0 record and 1.08 ERA.

Koehler gets rematch with Braves, who unveil Cahill

Familiarity won't be an issue when Tom Koehler faces the Braves on Tuesday night at Turner Field. In the third game of the season, the Marlins right-hander squared off against Atlanta in Miami. Backed by A.J. Pierzynski's two-run homer in the seventh inning, the Braves claimed a 2-0 victory over Koehler.
But it will be an unfamiliar setting for Trevor Cahill. In the middle game of the three-game series, Koehler draws a pitching matchup with Cahill, who will make his first appearance since Atlanta acquired him from Arizona. The Braves, because of an off-day, didn't need a fifth starter until now.
Here are three things you need to know:
1. Now that catcher J.T. Realmuto has been called up from Triple-A New Orleans, manager Mike Redmond said he will try to find ways to get Miami's No. 2 prospect, according to MLB.com, some playing time. It may end up being against lefty starters. But he promises to see action behind the plate, along with starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
2. The Braves acquired Cahill from the D-backs on March 31 with the hope that he might bounce back from last year's disappointing season, during which he spent some time in the Minors refining his mechanics. Cahill started a Minor League exhibition game on April 5, and then spent the first week in the Braves' bullpen. One scout recently said the former All-Star pitcher needs to focus more on his sinker and throw fewer curveballs.
3. Braves third baseman Chris Johnson has started just three of this season's first seven games. But while collecting four doubles, including three against right-handed pitchers, through the early portion of this season, Johnson has certainly earned the right to get more playing time.

White Sox, Indians set to renew acquaintances

The White Sox and Indians continue their journey through the American League Central, beginning a quick two-game series in Cleveland on Tuesday. The White Sox open the season with 25 of their first 28 games against the AL Central, including 18 straight. The Indians open with 20 of 27 against the Central, including 17 straight. Lefty Jose Quintana gets the start on Tuesday for Chicago. Carlos Carrasco will toe the rubber for Cleveland.
Three things to know about this game:
• Quintana is 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 career games (nine starts) and 58 1/3 innings pitched against the Indians. He has a 1.52 ERA over 23 2/3 innings at Progressive Field, and has also recorded 40 no-decisions overall since 2012, the most in baseball.
• After learning during Sunday's game that Indians catcher Yan Gomes will miss six to eight weeks with a moderate sprain of the MCL in his right knee, the Roberto Perez era in Cleveland officially begins. Perez caught Carrasco seven times last year, and in those seven starts, Carrasco posted a 1.07 ERA.
• The White Sox finished 9-10 against the Indians during the 2014 season. They lost seven of their last nine head-to-head matchups after winning seven of the first 10. In 2013, Cleveland held a 17-2 advantage over the South Siders that helped fuel the Indians' playoff push.

Andriese, Rays aiming to stay tough on Blue Jays

The Rays will send rookie right-hander Matt Andriese to the mound and the Blue Jays are set to counter with rookie lefty Daniel Norris in the series rematch on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.
Andriese entered the season in limbo, not knowing whether he would be a starter or a reliever. He made his Major League debut last Friday night, a scoreless inning of relief against the Marlins.
Norris, meanwhile, is fresh off his first MLB win, helping the Blue Jays take down the Yankees last Thursday with 5 2/3 innings and five strikeouts. He allowed two homers and three earned runs on six hits and two walks.
Three things to know about this game
• Andriese spent the 2014 season at Triple-A Durham, where he made 25 starts and led the Bulls with 11 wins. He is considered a "ground-ball guy" who won't overpower hitters with his velocity. The Blue Jays will see a changeup that acts like a splitter. Everything he throws is usually low and has some kind of sinking or cutting action to it.
"He keeps the ball down really well," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "And facing these guys, that's probably what we'd like him to do."
• In 2014, Toronto captured its first season series at home against Tampa Bay since 2010, winning five of nine games. The Blue Jays also won the season series as a whole between the two sides last year, marking the first time they've done so since 2006.
• Norris, who's considered Toronto's top prospect according to MLBpipeline.com, is expected to be a linchpin in the rotation this season. Only 21, he rocketed through the club's system last year and made his Major League debut in early September, five months after starting with Class A Advanced Dunedin. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said his young starter has adjusted well to big-league life, showing plenty of confidence.
"He got his feet wet last year, and he looked great all spring," Gibbons said. "He's a different character, but he's very confident and he looked good in New York."

Sabathia, Gonzalez set to square off at Camden

The Orioles and Yankees are scheduled to play the middle game of their three-game series on Tuesday night at Camden Yards, with Baltimore right-hander Miguel Gonzalez set to take the ball against New York left-hander CC Sabathia.
Gonzalez held the Rays to a run over 5 2/3 innings in his season debut on Wednesday, taking the loss as the O's were shut out, 2-0, at Tropicana Field.
Sabathia struck out eight Blue Jays and did not walk a batter over 5 2/3 frames Thursday in his first start since May 8, but departed on the hook for a 6-3 defeat.
Three things to know about this game
1. The long ball has been an issue for Sabathia over the last several seasons, as he permitted a career-high 28 homers in 2013 and 10 more in his abbreviated 2014 campaign. He hasn't allowed one yet this year, but the Orioles lead the Major Leagues with 12 homers, including Adam Jones' two-run shot off Michael Pineda in the series opener on Monday.
2. Gonzalez seems comfortable on this mound and against this opponent. He is 14-9 with a 3.49 ERA over his career at Camden Yards and has pitched to a 3.88 ERA in 10 games against the Yankees. Meanwhile, Sabathia is winless in his last six starts at Baltimore since the beginning of the 2012 season, going 0-4 with a 5.54 ERA over that span.
3. Yankees fans used to rush down Interstate 95 and infiltrate Camden Yards, but they haven't had much to cheer about here in recent seasons. The Orioles won 13 of 19 meetings with the Yankees in 2014, including seven of the nine contests at Camden Yards, leading to plenty of happy customers in orange.

Bucs' Burnett out to continue success against Tigers

The Pirates and Tigers will continue their three-game Interleague series Tuesday night at PNC Park, with Pittsburgh right-hander A.J. Burnett squaring off against Detroit righty Shane Greene.
Burnett, who returned to the Bucs on a one-year deal, received a warm welcome from the Pirates' home crowd during Monday's introductions. Greene threw eight scoreless innings in his season debut against the Twins on Thursday.
Three things to know about this game:
1. Burnett, who gave up two runs while striking out seven Reds over 5 1/3 innings Thursday in a no-decision, is 6-2 with a 5.19 ERA in 11 career starts against the Tigers. Burnett has thrived in Interleague Play with the Pirates, going 5-1 with a 2.92 ERA in eight starts.
2. Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was named the American League Player of the Week on Monday. Cabrera hit .520 (13-for-25) with two doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs.
"It's nothing new. It shouldn't surprise anybody," Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. "Great hitter to watch. Hopefully he can cool off against us."
Indeed, Cabrera went 2-for-4 on Monday.
3. The Pirates have won seven straight home games against AL teams. They went 8-2 against AL clubs at PNC Park last season, when they posted a two-game sweep of the Tigers on Aug. 11-12.

Back at Fenway, Masterson eyes encore performance

The Red Sox dominated in their 2015 return to Fenway Park. On Tuesday evening, the club will look to pair that game with another strong performance in the second of three games against the Nationals.
Justin Masterson will take the hill for his first home start in a Boston uniform since 2009, while the Nationals counter with reigning National League strikeout champion Stephen Strasburg.
Things to know about this game:
• Masterson continues his Red Sox return after throwing a solid six innings in his first start, allowing two earned runs and tossing seven strikeouts to two walks on Thursday vs. the Phillies. After struggling with a loss of fastball command for much of 2014, the veteran displayed strong location, throwing 64 of his 95 pitches for strikes.
• The Nationals will attempt to rebound from a dismal display in the field in the series opener, which featured misplayed outfield pop-ups and a handful of other mistakes on defense. Washington was an average defensive club last season, ranking 15th in errors made and fielding percentage, but the team has missed the presence of injured outfielder Denard Span so far this year.
• Only three current members of the Red Sox have seen more than four career at-bats against Strasburg: Allen Craig, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Of those players, only Ramirez, who has five hits and a 1.046 OPS in 16 at-bats, has been able to inflict any real damage against the hard-throwing righty.

Guerrero delivers in 10th as LA survives Seattle's 4 homers

 Alex Guerrero's bases-loaded single off rookie relieverTyler Olson cashed in Andre Ethier's leadoff double with two outs in the 10th inning on Monday night as the Dodgers overcame four Mariners home runs for a 6-5 walk-off win at Dodger Stadium.
Yimi Garcia got his first Major League win in relief for the Dodgers and Dominic Leone suffered the loss for Seattle.
"It's what we want for sure, more fighting and scratching, more passing the baton," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of his club's resiliency. "A lot of good things happened tonight." More >
Nelson Cruz homered twice and Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley once each in the first five innings off Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy. The Dodgers scored three runs off Seattle starter James Paxton in the fourth inning and tied the game in the fifth with a home run by Yasiel Puig, a double by Player of the Week Adrian Gonzalez and an RBI single by Howie Kendrick.
"He just started to elevate the ball, and that's not like him," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said after Paxton squandered a 4-0 lead. "It really gave them a chance to get back in the ballgame. It's tough. We wasted a lot of good performances tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
He's Cruz'n now: After going 1-for-15 in his first four games with the Mariners, Cruz has heated up in a hurry. His first-inning opposite-field homer was his third homer in his past three games and 200th of his MLB career, and his fourth-inning shot gave him four home runs in an eight-at-bat stretch dating back to Saturday. Cruz pushed a 1-2 fastball down the right-field line to give Seattle a 2-0 lead after Robinson Cano's two-out single, and he did it again in the fourth -- this one to right-center -- for the 14th multi-homer game of his career. More >
Defense and offense: Scott Van Slyke -- whose father, Andy, is a Mariners coach -- threw out Logan Morrison trying for a double with a jaw-dropping throw from the left-field corner leading off the top of the second inning. In the fourth, Van Slyke walked to load the bases and made a heads-up advance to second base when he saw it was uncovered on Guerrero's sacrifice fly. He then scored on Joc Pederson's two-run single, running on left fielder Seth Smith.
It's a long-ball party: Cruz wasn't the only one muscling up for the Mariners. Seager followed Cruz in the fourth with a solo shot to right field for his second homer of the season, and Ackley -- playing center field for the first time since 2013 -- ripped his third long ball of the season in the fifth. The Mariners totaled seven home runs in their first six games before belting four in their first appearance at Dodger Stadium since 2009. The Mariners haven't hit five homers in a game since May 30, 2013, in San Diego.
Unusual line: According to the Dodgers, McCarthy is the first pitcher in MLB history to strike out 10 without a walk while allowing four homers in a game. Most importantly, he made it through seven innings with the bullpen expecting a workout Tuesday night, as probable starter David Huff threw 50 pitches in his only appearance with Triple-A Oklahoma City. More >
QUOTABLE
• "I think we have the ability to score in a lot of different ways. The other part hasn't manifested itself yet, but I think it's coming. I like where we are. I like the at-bats we're having. It's nice to hit home runs, too." -- McClendon, after the Mariners hit four home runs but struck out 15 times
• "We have three wins and he has two saves and a win. So, in a sense, we're able to trust him when he's out there." -- Mattingly, on reliever Joel Peraltaprior to Los Angeles improving to 4-3 on Monday night
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Ackley has three homers in five games this season and 13 in his last 51 games since Aug. 31. During that same span, Cruz has hit 15 home runs.
WHAT'S NEXT
Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma makes his second start of the season in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. PT game at Dodger Stadium, looking to improve on a shaky opener in which he gave up five runs in the first two innings of a 5-3 loss to the Angels. Iwakuma faced the Dodgers twice in relief in 2012 at the start of his Mariners career (2.45 ERA in 3 2/3 innings).
Dodgers: Huff will be promoted before the game to start for Los Angeles. He allowed one run in three innings at Triple-A last week and had a 1.50 ERA in Spring Training..

De La Rosa, Inciarte help D-backs snap Padres' streak

 Ender Inciarte had two doubles and a triple and knocked in four runs on Monday as the D-backs defeated the Padres, 8-4, before a crowd of 19,538 at Petco Park.
San Diego starting pitcher Andrew Cashner (0-2) struck out nine and allowed four runs, all unearned, over six innings. He was hurt by a throwing error in the D-backs' four-run second inning.
Arizona pitcher Rubby De La Rosa (2-0) allowed three runs in six innings as the D-backs ended San Diego's three-game winning streak.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Making it hurt: With two outs in the second, one run scored for the D-backs on a throwing error by Padres second baseman Yangervis Solarte. But the D-backs didn't stop there, stringing together three straight hits, including a two-run double by Inciarte and an RBI single by Chris Owings for a 4-0 lead. More >
One bad inning: Cashner had an otherwise strong outing tarnished by a very fitful second inning, when he allowed five of his seven hits. Cashner's nine punchouts were the most he has recorded in a start in which he worked fewer than 6 1/3 innings.
"[Cashner] hung in there. We just couldn't battle back from a tough second [inning]," said Padres manager Bud Black. "That was a back breaker early. Cash hung in there, he put up four zeros after that and gave us a chance to come back, which was nice. Obviously, the error hurt us at the bottom of the order." More >
Versatile Solarte: Another day, another start for Solarte. He started at first base on Friday and at second base on Sunday and Monday, as slumping Jedd Gyorko got his second start off. The switch-hitting Solarte responded with two hits and two RBIs, all from the left side.
Solid outing for Rubby: De La Rosa limited the damage after allowing a walk and single to open the fifth inning. The Padres were only able to push across one run in the inning ,and De La Rosa was able to get through six innings and turn a 5-3 lead over to the bullpen.
"A little better, six innings is good," said D-backs manager Chip Hale. "He'll need to bear down a little more with two outs, he'll do a better job, and this is all part of the maturation process. This is a step forward."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cashner extended his club-record streak of consecutive starts with fewer than three earned runs to 19, but not by conventional means. In fact, Cashner allowed four runs -- all unearned -- during the second inning Monday. That streak dates back to June 11, 2003.
INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT
In what qualified as a "What if?" moment, Black elected to let Cashner hit in the bottom of the fifth inning with runners on first and second and no outs. Cashner fouled off a bunt and then struck out. He was already at 95 pitches after his first five innings.The Padres would score a run, though the damage could have been worse.
WHAT'S NEXT
D-backs: The D-backs will send Jeremy Hellickson to the mound Tuesday night at 7:10 p.m. MST against the Padres at Petco Park. Hellickson struggled to command his pitches in his first start of the season against the Giants.
Padres: Odrisamer Despaigne makes his first start of the season Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. PT, as he continues to fill in for injured pitcher Ian Kennedy (left hamstring strain).

A's find power stroke as Kazmir stifles Astros

 Brett LawrieBilly Butler and Marcus Semien each blasted their first home runs as members of the A's, with Butler hitting a three-run shot over the Minute Maid Park railroad tracks in left field in the fifth inning, in an 8-1 rout of the Astros on Monday night.
A's starter Scott Kazmir won for the second time in as many starts, improving to 3-1 in eight career starts against his hometown team by allowing three hits and striking out eight in six innings. He retired the first nine batters he faced before Jose Altuve homered to lead off the fourth to cut the lead to 4-1.
"One through nine, you never know what can happen, any given day," Lawrie said. "We've been stringing hits together, and when you can do that you can be loose and just play and not worry too much. You know someone's going to pick you up. It's good to know anyone who gets in the box can do some damage."
The first three A's batters of the game scored against Astros starter Scott Feldman, who was rocked for 10 hits and eight runs (seven earned) in five innings. Sam Fuld reached on Jonathan Villar's fielding error, and Mark Canha and Ben Zobrist followed with RBI doubles. Ike Davis' one-out single scored Zobrist for a 3-0 lead.
"I don't think Feldman had his good stuff today and they had a good plan against him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They had a good game plan against him and he made some mistakes. It seemed like everything they hit did damage. I think that was a difficult first inning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Power parade: The A's entered the day with just three home runs, second fewest in the American League, before getting three in the first five innings of Monday's opener -- one each from newcomers Lawrie, Semien and Butler. Lawrie and Semien both hit solo shots off Feldman, while Butler sent a three-run moon shot out of the park against the right-hander in a four-run fifth. More >
Feldman struggles mightily: The Astros didn't do Feldman any favors with two errors in the first inning, but he struggled from the get-go. The big right-hander gave up 10 hits and eight runs (seven earned) and didn't strike out a batter in five innings. More >
"No matter what happens, when I let the ball go I have to worry about making pitches, and I didn't do a good job of that tonight," Feldman said.
KKKKKKKKazmir: Kazmir fanned eight, walked three and allowed just three hits, including Altuve's fourth-inning leadoff shot, over six one-run innings. Altuve's home run was the first hit allowed by the lefty since the first inning of his last start, a stretch of 33 batters without one. Kazmir has struck out 18 of his first 48 batters of the season.
"He made such good pitches all night, kept them off-balance," said catcherStephen Vogt. "He was working up and down, in and out, changing speeds. It was really fun to watch him work. He really didn't make a mistake. The Altuve homer was a good pitch, and he's just a really good hitter."
Astros sluggers struggling: The third, fourth and fifth spots in the Astros' batting order continued to struggle Monday, with George SpringerChris Carter and Evan Gattis not providing any pop. Those three spots in the order have accounted for only five hits this year, with Gattis breaking his 0-for-23 funk with a ninth-inning single. More >
"He's hit the ball on the nose a number of times through these first six or seven games," Hinch said. "Evan Gattis will get plenty of hits for us."
QUOTABLE
"He's a highlight every day it seems like. When that ball was hit, I didn't think there was any chance. I thought maybe [right fielder Josh] Reddick had a better chance to get to it. His defensive metrics in center field are really good."-- A's manager Bob Melvin, on center fielder Fuld's diving catch in the fifth to rob Jake Marisnick of extra bases
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Butler extended his hitting streak to an AL-leading eight games. The last player to begin his A's career with an eight-game hitting streak was Alfredo Griffin, who hit safely in his first nine games with the club from April 9-17, 1985.
REPLAY REVIEW
Melvin unsuccessfully challenged a safe call in the bottom of the eighth inning. Altuve hit a sharp grounder to Lawrie at third base to lead off the frame, and Lawrie's throw to first went wide, forcing Davis off the bag. Davis attempted a tag of Altuve, but Houston's second baseman was deemed safe, and the call stood.
WHAT'S NEXT
Athletics: Right-hander Kendall Graveman will be making his second career start on Tuesday and first on the road, when he takes on the Astros for a matchup at Minute Maid Park. Graveman, who allowed one earned run in 25 1/3 spring innings, was roughed up for seven (eight total) in just 3 1/3 innings against the Rangers in his A's debut Thursday, struggling with his arm slot.
Astros: After having to use Asher Wojciechowski in relief on Monday because the bullpen was short-handed, the Astros were forced to send him down to call up right-hander Brad Peacock from Triple-A Fresno to start Tuesday's game against the A's at 7:10 p.m. CT at Minute Maid Park. Peacock made one rehab start at Fresno, throwing 4 2/3 hitless innings with five walks and a hit batter. He had hip surgery in October and began the year on the disabled list while he built up his pitch count because he was behind in Spring Training.