The Houston Astros have been playing better of late, but they still haven’t figured out how to beat the Oakland Athletics. The Astros head into Saturday’s contest having lost all seven meetings between the teams this season, including a demoralizing 6-5 defeat in Friday’s series opener. Houston native Chris Young’s career batting average at Minute Maid Park climbed to .418 after he crushed a three-run homer off Astros closer Jose Veras in the ninth inning.
While Veras suffered his third blown save, Oakland's Grant Balfour converted his 28th consecutive save opportunity. The Athletics moved to 12-1 all-time against the Astros, including nine straight wins. Houston's J.D Martinez, who homered in the loss, is hitting .364 (12-for-33) with three blasts and 10 RBIs in the last 10 games. The Astros have won four of their last eight, while Oakland has won six of its last seven.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, FOX
PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics RH A.J. Griffin (2-0, 1.93 ERA) vs. Astros RH Lucas Harrell (3-5, 4.63)
Griffin has worked at least six innings in eight of his nine starts. He had a no-decision in his only career start against the Astros on April 16, when he allowed two runs while striking out eight over six innings. Griffin is the third pitcher in Oakland history to have at least 11 wins in his first 24 career games, and the Athletics are 18-6 when he starts.
After posting an 8.79 ERA in his previous three starts, Harrell limited the Pirates to one run on four hits over seven innings last Sunday. The 27-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 7.11 ERA in four career games (two starts) against the Athletics, including a dismal outing on April 7 in which he allowed eight runs on a season-high three homers over 4 1/3 innings.
1. Athletics SS Jed Lowrie missed his second straight game Friday due to a bruised right foot and is listed as day-to-day.
2. Astros 3B Matt Dominguez homered Friday after missing one game with tightness in his left quadriceps.
3. The Athletics have not committed an error in their last seven games, which matches their longest streak since Sept. 12-18, 2009.
PREDICTION: Athletics 5, Astros 3