Astros confident hitters' timing is on the cusp

Clutch hits were hard to come by in Tuesday's loss

Astros confident hitters' timing is on the cusp

HOUSTON -- In their 4-0 loss to the Athletics on Tuesday, the Astros out-hit the A's 8-7. But the Astros left 11 runners on base.

"Giving that we were putting so many runners on base, I felt we were one hit away from getting right there," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We did it with two outs in Texas a couple of days ago."

The Astros may have delivered the clutch hits Sunday, beating the Rangers 6-4 in 14 innings, but they couldn't get the timely hit on Tuesday against Oakland starter Kendall Graveman, who earned his first Major League win. The Astros also couldn't score on A's relievers Eric O'Flaherty, Dan Otero, Fernando Abad or Tyler Clippard.

Jason Castro reached base in his first two plate appearances, but in the sixth and eighth innings, the Houston catcher came up with runners on first and second and couldn't deliver the big hit. Castro, who walked in the second and singled in the fourth, hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the sixth and flied out to deep right to end the eighth.

"Guys are starting to hit the ball hard," Castro said. "You can't control hitting balls at guys. We had a few in the Texas series and had a few tonight.

"It's there. Guys are feeling good. And as long as you're having good at-bats and having good swings on the ball, hits will start falling. It will be contagious. Once we start getting guys going and a little luck in our side, it will turn around for us."

The fifth inning, with the top of the order in Jose Altuve, George Springer and Jed Lowrie, was the only inning the Astros were retired in order.

Richard Dean is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.