Oakland Athletics Crush Bud Norris, Cruise to Victory over Houston Astros

Kelley L Cox-USA Today Sports

In a brief moment of uncharacteristic deft commentary, the Houston Astros’ television play-by-play and color commentators referenced the Oakland Athletics’ ability to take pitches, work counts, and force pitchers into inopportune situations. At the time it wasn’t so clear that walks would be the primary bane to the Astros on Wednesday afternoon, but a few runs later it was.

Oakland hopped on SP Bud Norris for six earned runs, five hits, and three walks while facing a majority of hitters’ counts. Norris’s afternoon was over after recording two outs. The Athletics rode their hot first inning to their 12th win, which thrusts them to the top of the AL West, while Houston rode it to their 12th loss and the bottom of the division.

After the first, Bartolo Colon cruised. Final line: Oakland 7, Astros 5.

Oakland’s patience has them atop the MLB in BBs — that, matched with the Astros at fifth in distributed BBs, doesn’t bode auspicious for Houston: Oakland now leads the season series 6-0.

It’s going to be a long year for Houston (if you didn’t already know). This is the second time in three days where their starter didn’t get through the first inning — on Monday, Erik Bedard allowed six ER and was pulled after getting one out. If they’re forced to continue to burn through their bullpen so often, they’ll be forced to pick a few undeveloped pieces from their farm system, which will presumably start an ugly spiral of ineptitude and long, unwatchable games (kind of like Wednesday’s). What’s worse, Norris seems to be Houston’s best deadline trade chip for their perpetual rebuilding process, and obviously bad outings reduce his value.

The Athletics, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, continue their uncanny ability to pick up scraps from around the league and churn out a successful club. It helps when you face the Astros, but winning games without Coco Crisp or Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup is promising.

Immediately after, the commentary trio feel back into talking about how Oakland simply gets the benefit of every doubt and that there’s nothing Houston can do against such lopsided luck. At one point they actually said something like, “I don’t know what it is, but it seems like all these walks the Astros hand out come back to bite them!” This was said without irony, sarcasm, self-awareness, or intelligence.

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