Zack Greinke, Astros shut down rival A’s to win opener 8-1

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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OAKLAND, Calif. — Astros manager Dusty Baker hoped to get five strong innings from Zack Greinke on opening day.

The veteran righty gave Houston a little more.

“He was kind of in midseason form,” Baker said.

Greinke pitched six shutout innings, Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman homered back-to-back in the eighth, and Houston hushed an unwelcoming crowd in beating the reigning AL West champion Oakland Athletics 8-1 on Thursday night.

“I’m not really worried about Greinke. He’s in much better shape this year. Last year it didn’t look like we were going to come back,” Baker said.

A’s fans had to wait an extra year to properly boo the Astros, who were supposed to play their first road game of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season here last spring. Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was brought to light by A’s right-hander Mike Fiers against his former club, and many in the crowd chanted “Cheaters!”

Greinke hopes wins like this might help silence some of the haters.

“Got to hear some boos finally, that wasn’t that fun to listen to,” Greinke said, “but we played good so it ended up being better.”

Among the biggest cheers of the night: when Carlos Correa was drilled by Chris Bassitt‘s fastball in the fourth inning with a runner in scoring position.

Backed by a two-run double from Yordan Alvarez, Greinke (1-0) allowed three hits, struck out four and didn’t walk a batter in Houston’s club-record ninth straight win on opening day. It marks the majors’ longest active streak, and the Astros joined only four other teams since 1900 to win nine consecutive season openers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: Mariners (2007-15), Reds (1983-91), Mets (1975-83) and St. Louis Browns (1937-45).

The game drew a sellout of 10,436, with the ballpark at 20% capacity as baseball fans returned to the Coliseum for the first time since the A’s lost at home to Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card game on Oct. 2, 2019.

Houston lost all but one of eight games in Oakland in 2020 before eliminating the A’s in a four-game Division Series last fall.

Bassitt (0-1), a right-hander who went 5-2 over 11 starts to emerge as the A’s ace last season, allowed three runs and four hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.

“When it’s 1-0, you come out of the game, you’ve done your job,” manager Bob Melvin said.

New A’s shortstop Elvis Andrus delivered the first Oakland hit with a ground-rule double in the third. Andrus made his A’s debut after being traded in February from Texas in exchange for designated hitter Khris Davis.

And Oakland Platinum Glove third baseman Matt Chapman‘s return to the hot corner meant so much after he played only 37 games in 2020 because of a right hip injury that required surgery in September.

Chapman hit a seventh-inning sacrifice fly – and he hardly cares if people count out these A’s already.

“We like being the underdogs,” Chapman said. “That just means we’re playing with house money. We’re not expected to do anything, so everything we do is great. But I know it’s a different vibe in this clubhouse. We’re expecting to win the division.”

ON THE MIC

Lifelong Athletics fan and Oakland native Amelia Schimmel made her first appearance as public address announcer after replacing the late Dick Callahan, who was remembered in a pregame tribute.

“It’s so surreal. It’s also strange to think that last year at this time I was nervous for a number of different reasons and there weren’t fans yet,” she said. “When I first pressed that button I had never done it before and there were all those nerves. Knew it was 10,000 cardboard cutouts, but I knew that the players were listening and the media was listening.

“Now, you have the fans in, that’s a level of excitement that I just can’t fathom right now.”

Schimmel is the third active female PA voice in the big leagues, joining Renel Brooks-Moon across San Francisco Bay with the Giants and Marysol Castro with the New York Mets. The Orioles also called up Adrienne Roberson from the minors to serve as PA announcer during the shortened 2020 season.

Callahan – whose cardboard cutout is close by Schimmel in the booth – died in January at age 80 after 15 seasons on the microphone for home games at the Coliseum.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Baker said his players and staff who received COVID-19 vaccines during a quick stop home in Houston from spring training felt remarkably well with few issues.

Athletics: Fiers was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Monday with a lower back strain, and reliever Trevor Rosenthal also went on the IL retroactive to Tuesday with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. He will remain with the team to rehab. “He’s not going to throw for a while,” Melvin said.

UP NEXT

Left-hander Jesus Luzardo takes the ball in the second game of the series for the A’s opposite Astros righty Cristian Javier, a five-game winner last year in his first big league season.

Yankees’ Judge heads on road still at 61 homers; 4 games left

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NEW YORK – Aaron Judge won’t break the American League home run record at Yankee Stadium, remaining at 61 as New York headed on the road for its final four regular-season games after a 3-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

Judge struck out three times and walked once, disappointing a crowd of 44,332 that watched the Yankees regular-season home finale in rain for much of a chilly, blustery afternoon. New York finishes the regular season with four games at Texas, starting Monday night.

Judge took a called third strike from rookie Kyle Bradish leading off the first inning, then couldn’t check his swing and stranded the bases loaded when he struck out on a curveball in the second. He walked in the fifth and fanned against Bryan Baker in the seventh, dropping to 1 for 7 with six strikeouts, five walks and a hit batter since hitting No. 61 at Toronto on Wednesday night.

Trying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012, Judge tops the AL with 130 RBIs. His batting average fell to .311, four points behind league leader Luis Arraez of Minnesota.

Baltimore (82-77) guaranteed its first winning season since 2016. The Orioles went 52-110 last year and became the first team since at least 1900 to have a winning record one season after losing 110 or more.

AL East champion New York (97-61) took another hit to an injury-ravaged bullpen when Ron Marinaccio left while pitching to Jorge Mateo in the eighth. The Yankees will be without Clay Holmes until the playoffs because of rotator cuff inflammation, and Aroldis Chapman (3-4) was once again wild, walking three, including rookie Gunnar Henderson with the bases loaded, as Baltimore surged ahead in the seventh.

Chi Chi Gonzalez, a 30-year-old right-hander, made his Yankees debut after pitching for Minnesota and Milwaukee in the majors earlier this season. He threw to Jose Trevino, his batterymate at Oral Roberts in 2012 and ’13.

Gonzalez allowed one run, four hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings.

Bradish gave up one run – unearned – three hits and five walks in five-plus innings.

Logan Gillaspie (1-0) pitched a scoreless sixth in his first big league decision, Baker struck out five while getting six straight outs, and Dillon Tate got three outs for his fifth save.

Ryan Mountcastle had an RBI double in the first. Aaron Hicks scored from second base in the fifth when Bradish bounced a wild pitch and catcher Adley Rutschman threw the ball into center for an error.

Cedric Mullins reached on an infield hit starting the seventh against Chapman, has walked 28 in 35 1/3 innings. After Chapman walked three of four batters, Austin Hays followed with a sacrifice fly off Marinaccio.

WEB GEMS

Yankees 3B Josh Donaldson made a backhand grab on Jorge Mateo’s bases-loaded grounder in the sixth and from foul territory made a strong throw for the inning-ending out. … Hicks saved two runs with a sprinting catch on Terrin Vavra‘s slicing liner near the left-field line in the seventh.

FOR THE BOOKS

New York went 57-24 at home, matching most wins at new Yankee Stadium. Baltimore was 38-43 on the road, up from 20-61.

IN THE SEATS

The Yankees drew 3,136,207 for 78 home dates, down from 3,304,404 in 2019, the last season before two years of COVID restrictions. They had 16 sellouts, up from 12 in 2019.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Felix Bautista may not pitch for the rest of the season because of the sore left knee he injured Friday.

Yankees: Matt Carpenter (broken left foot on Aug 8) will not work out initially in the outfield at the Somerset, New Jersey, training camp this week. He was moved to the 60-day IL on Sunday, ruling him out of the Texas series. … RHP Miguel Castro (strained shoulder) could be activated Monday. … LHP Wandy Peralta, sidelined since Sept. 18 with back tightness, threw a bullpen session and will face hitters at Somerset on Tuesday or Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Dean Kremer (6-8, 3.17) starts Monday’s opener of a season-ending series against visiting Toronto and Jose Berrios (11-7, 5.37)

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (6-3, 3.41) starts Monday in the opener of a four-game series at Texas and LHP Martin Perez (12-7, 2.93). After Wednesday, the Yankees have five off days before their Division Series opener at home on Oct. 11.