A’s fans waited more than a year to finally get the chance to boo the hated Astros in person.
Houston got the last laugh.
Zack Greinke pitched six scoreless innings Thursday night as the Astros pounded the A’s 8-1 on Opening Day in front of 10,436 at the Coliseum, technically a sellout crowd with new COVID-19 attendance restrictions.
The Coliseum faithful greeted Houston with loud boos and jeers throughout the game, with some fans banging on trash cans, their response to the Astros’ 2017 cheating scandal. José Altuve and Carlos Correa took the brunt of the taunts, with the Oakland crowd erupting in cheers when A’s starter Chris Bassitt plunked Correa with a 94 mph fastball in the fourth inning.
But the Astros overcame the noise — and the A’s — to start their season with a convincing road win. Alex Bregman drove in the game’s first run on a groundout in the fourth inning to give Houston the early lead. Then Yordan Álvarez ripped a two-run double in the sixth to make it 3-0.
Oakland got a run back in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Matt Chapman, but that was all the A’s offense could muster for the night. Houston’s Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman answered with back-to-back home runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach. Brantley finished the night 3-for-4, while Bregman went 2-for-4.
Greinke allowed just three hits in his six shutout frames, striking out four without issuing a walk en route to his first career Opening Day win. Bassitt took the tough-luck loss for Oakland, allowing just three runs in 5 1/3 innings, with two of them scoring after he left the game.
Chad Pinder and Ramón Laureano were the offensive bright spots for the A’s, with each notching a pair of hits. Newcomer Elvis Andrus also recorded his first hit in green and gold, a ground-rule double in the third inning.
Thursday’s result notwithstanding, the A’s and Astros figure to battle all season along atop the American League West standings. Houston won three straight division titles from 2017-19 before Oakland ended their run with a division crown last season.
The two teams face off again Friday night when 23-year-old phenom Jesús Luzardo takes the mound for Oakland, facing Houston’s Cristian Javier in the second game of the four-game series.