OAKLAND — As far as reunion tours went, this one left something to be desired.
Before Monday night’s series opener against the Houston Astros — in front of a season-low 7,360 fans — the A’s front office honored a member of their 50th Anniversary team, handing visiting Houston Astros outfielder Josh Reddick a gold-trimmed Kelly green jersey.
One of Reddick’s teammates on the surprise 2012 AL West-winning Oakland team — Brett Anderson — returned for his first home start in Oakland since Sept. 22, 2013. Unlike Reddick — who scored two runs and reached base three out of the four times he stepped to the plate — Anderson didn’t quite remember how to play the hits. Instead, he allowed 10 of them in a 16-2 loss.
“I don’t think Bob [Melvin, A’s manager] gives up that many hits in batting practice,” Anderson said.
The Astros (22-15) banged out 20 hits, including six by leadoff man George Springer, who set a club nine-inning game record by going 6-for-6.
“Nobody should feel comfortable enough in there to get six hits,” Anderson said. “[If] they’re Tony Gwynn with Billy Hamilton’s speed, they shouldn’t get to six hits in a game, regardless of who’s out there.”
Anderson allowed nine runs — seven earned — and failed to get an out in the fourth, an outing in stark contrast to his first 2018 return engagement with the team for whom he made his Major League debut nine years ago.
Anderson — signed by the A’s late in spring training to a Minor League deal on March 19 — threw 6 1/3 innings in his re-debut with the A’s at Seattle on May 2, allowing two runs with four strikeouts. On Monday, in his first home outing in Oakland since Sept. 22, 2013, he came out flat.
“It didn’t look like there was much life on his fastball,” Melvin said. “Breaking ball wasn’t as good, but just chalk it up to one of those games.”
Anderson had looked shaky early, allowing two runs in the first on a double, a pair of walks and a single, but an alert Jonathan Lucroy ended the inning, when a back-pick to first to try and get Gonzalez turned into 2-3-5-2-5 put-out of Bregman at third. A three-run George Springer homer in the second put the Astros up 5-0, with a shot that left the bat at 112 mph and traveled 462 feet off of an Anderson change up. It was the longest by an Astros player this season.
“Command within the strike zone was terrible,” said Anderson, who allowed four extra-base hits, including two doubles by former A’s farmhand Max Stassi. “I had enough stuff to get to situations or counts where I would like to be, but just didn’t have any pitch to finish them off … There were good pitches that were hit for hits, and bad pitches that were hit for extra-base hits.”
Anderson failed to record an out in the fourth before being replaced by Chris Hatcher. Hatcher, in turn, allowed two inherited runners to score before allowing two runs of his own on a Marwin Gonzalez home run to right, one of three home runs on the night for Houston.
Everything that had worked for the A’s over the weekend against the cellar-dwelling Orioles — getting just enough offense (10 runs in three games) to back stellar pitching and spotless defense — went rotten against the reigning world champions, who lead the league in ERA (2.68).
Aside from Anderson’s implosion, Oakland managed just five hits over eight innings against Dallas Keuchel, who came in with the highest ERA among Houston starters, at 3.98. Last time Oakland faced Keuchel, the A’s tagged him for six earned runs in seven innings.
“We got him pretty good last time, but this time, he had better command,” Melvin said. “Created some room in so he could go away, keeps the ball down. Walks very few guys, usually keeps it on the ground.”
Against him, the A’s got one fewer hit than Springer had on the night.
The A’s added back-to-back doubles by Mark Canha and Lucroy, and an infield single by Jake Smolinski, in the ninth against reliever Tony Sipp.
On Tuesday, A’s lefty Sean Manaea will face righty Lance McCullers, Jr., who has the second-highest ERA among Houston starters, at 3.73.
… Houston, which banged out 20 hits on Monday, has now out-scored Oakland 35-6 in their last three meetings. On Monday, five Astros banged out multiple hits, while three tallied multiple RBIs. Gonzalez went 3-for-6 with five RBIs on the day.
… Melvin removed third baseman Matt Chapman for right fielder Matt Joyce in the sixth. Chapman had one hit in his last 27 at-bats, and is hitting .232. Chad Pinder took over at third for the rest of the game — the first time in his Major League career he’s played there.
“He’s played every inning, every game,” Melvin said of Chapman. “He plays as hard as anybody in the league. Just trying to give him some time off.”
… Anderson’s seven earned runs were the most by any A’s pitcher this season.