Athletics Can't Overlook Luzardo's Showing, Even if the Rookie is Unimpressed

John Hickey

It was easy to overlook the job turned in by Jesús Luzardo Sunday against the Astros in light of the way the game turned out – a brawl in the seventh inning leading to the ejections of A’s center fielder Ramón Laureano and catcher Austin Allen.

Luzardo did. The rest of the A’s did not.

In getting his first win as a starting pitcher in just his second MLB start, Luzardo pitched into the sixth inning and save for a two-run homer hit in the fourth inning by Yuli Gurriel, Luzardo was clearly the master of the situation.

He didn’t seem to believe his day was all that special, saying “Overall, I thought it was all right.”

“I kept us in the game and I’m glad that we were able to get the win,” the 22-year-old left-hander said. He said that two two-out walks in the sixth inning which led to his removal and his pitch count (89), fueled by “nibbling in the first two innings,” kept his day from being better.

“I feel like my command wasn’t where I wanted it necessarily to be with the walks and with getting behind early in the game. I thought my slider was better than it was last time. It’s not how it was at the end of last year, but we’re definitely making progress to get there.”

A’s manager Bob Melvin had a somewhat different view, or at least a sense of great optimism for the future based on Luzardo’s showing against Houston.

“He will probably tell you that he didn’t have what he normally has,” Melvin said. “But if that’s a bad game, then we’re going to be in pretty good shape with hi down the road. I’m not saying it was a bad game, but even if that’s just a mediocre game for him, stuff-wise and command-wise, he’s a terrific talent.

“He doesn’t have to have his best stuff even against a team like that to go out there and perform at a high level. You’re going to see a guy who’s going to excel here, and we’re really excited about that.”

Luzardo allowed a leadoff single in the first to Jose Altuve and a one-out double in the second to Gurriel. It wasn’t until home runs by Robbie Grossman, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman – Olson’s was a three-run shot and his and Chapman’s were the A’s first back-to-back homers of the season – in the third had produced a 5-0 lead that Luzardo gave the Astros anything.

Michael Brantley doubled and Gurriel homered with two out in the fourth. From that point, however, Luzardo retired six men in a row before back-to-back walks to Alex Bregman and Brantley in the sixth. Given Gurriel’s previous success against Luzardo for the afternoon, Melvin went to veteran Yusmeiro Petit, who walked a man to load the bases before striking out Carlos Correa on three pitches to end the Astros last moment of concerted offense.

The win completed a three-game sweep of the series, a six-game sweep of a homestand against division rivals Texas and Houston and extended the team’s 2020-best winning streak to nine games, including three wins last weekend in Seattle.

“I thought it was big,” Luzardo said. You know, they’re a great tam, their lineup and all that, so you know just being able to sweep them and kind of being able to extend our lead in the AL West is great for us. Having the ability to win these big games early in the season is big for us.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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