Bassitt finishes off dominant series by A's hurlers
Right-hander strikes out 10 over 6 2/3 innings Sunday vs. Astros
By Trevor Hass
OAKLAND -- Each of the A's four starters in the series win over the Astros gave up just one run in 6 2/3 innings or more.
On Thursday, Aaron Brooks proved his first start wasn't a fluke. The next day, Sonny Gray tossed his third complete game in his last six starts. The day after that, Jesse Chavez bounced back after a poor stretch of starts.
On Sunday, it was Chris Bassitt's turn, and he didn't disappoint. Bassitt pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out a career high 10 on 112 pitches in a 5-4 win over the Astros.
"That's incredible," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's been that way the whole year for us, but to have it happening right now with [Jesse] Hahn down and [Scott] Kazmir gone and have some guys that had to step into the rotation, whether it's Brooks or certainly Bassitt, similar to what we've been getting all year, means we have great depth with our starting pitching."
A's starters have yielded one run or fewer in eight of the 10 games, posting a 2.01 ERA during that stretch.
While the A's offense has struggled in spurts, their bullpen has been shaky and their defense has been the worst in the Majors, their starting pitching has steadily been close to the best unit in baseball all season, particularly of late.
"Starters were unreal, obviously," Bassitt said, referring to this series, "but overall I felt really good today."
Bassitt said the Astros are generally an aggressive team, and they were being extra aggressive on Sunday.
The Astros have the most home runs in the Majors, but they also have the second-most strikeouts, so Bassitt used that to his advantage. He knew he could get hitters to chase pitches out of the zone and swing at his curveball.
He struck out the side in the fifth, and at one point retired 11 in a row. Bassitt has now yielded three runs or fewer in all seven of his starts, but only has one win to show for it.
"The record doesn't indicate what he's done for us," Josh Reddick said. "Look at the ERA, hasn't given up a whole lot of earned runs. Just goes out there and battles through six or seven, sometimes eight innings."
Bassitt's strikeout numbers have either stayed the same or gone up every game (three, three, three, four, six, seven, 10). He's had more efficient outings than this one -- notably his last start when he pitched seven scoreless innings on Tuesday against Baltimore -- but Sunday was Bassitt's most dominant outing.
"He was dropping his curveball in," catcher Josh Phegley said, "throwing the slider for a strike, mixing in the changeup, as well as an electric fastball. You can see the confidence he has on the mound and the energy. It's fun to watch."
Trevor Hass is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.