A's Avoid Sweep, Beat Astros 9-7 in Game 3: Four Thoughts

Will Zack Greinke be the game four starter?
Will Zack Greinke be the game four starter? Photo by Jack Gorman
The Astros finally lost in the postseason. After a sweep of the Twins and opening 2-0 on Oakland, Game 3 gave the A's some revenge, as they beat the 'Stros 9-7 and staved off elimination. Like the rest of the series, there was a ton of offense on both sides — 38 runs in three games from both teams. Both squads were relentless at the plate with the Astros putting up five in the fifth to take the lead only to see the A's respond with five of their own in the seventh and eighth.

Thursday, the Astros get their second chance to close out the series in Game 4. Speaking of 4, here are our thoughts on Wednesday's Game 3 and beyond.

Dodger Stadium is long-ball heaven.

The Astros and A's have combined for 17 home runs in three games including six on Wednesday. This plays to the strengths of both teams, but the Astros, until Wednesday, had been able to limit the A's to solo shots. Chad Pinders three-run dinger in the seventh inning of game three not only tied the ballgame, but seemed to shift the momentum a bit. Still, with at least one more game in LA, and much deeper into both team's rotation, it seems likely we'll see more fly out of the park on Thursday.

Small ball was key in Game 3.

Despite the homers, it was a pair of sacrifice flies in the eighth inning by the A's, and the inability of Josh Reddick to drive in runs in the Astros half of the same inning, that was the difference. The Astros have been really good at station-to-station baseball when their power has failed them in the playoffs. The A's turned the tables in Game 3.

Can Greinke go?

As of writing this, the Astros were planning to pitch "TBA" in Game 4. Zack Greinke has been dealing with soreness in his pitching arm, though doctors found no structural damage. Even if he can go, no one should expect more than a few innings out of Greinke. On the other side, the A's throw opening day starter Frankie Montas, who has struggled this season, but still gives them the advantage.

The Game 5 starter could be Mike Fiers.

In yet another bizarre twist to this completely crazy year, former Astro pitcher Mike Fiers could start Game 5 if the A's win on Thursday. Fiers is the player who admitted to the Astros cheating and was the first domino to fall in a cheating scandal that not only rocked the organization — never mind cost the manager and GM their jobs — it dominated MLB news for months and tarnished the only World Series win in Houston history. If the teams make it to a fifth game, putting Fiers on the mound is risky for both teams. Either he gets roughed up by the Astros in a bid for revenge or he shuts them down and, likely, up. Either way, the very idea of that matchup is pretty incredible considering they year we've had.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke