Gat­tis’ sec­ond straight 5-RBI night a first

Houston Chronicle - - SPORTS - By Chan­dler Rome

OAK­LAND, Calif. — The re­sult was a fore­gone con­clu­sion. What re­mained was com­pul­sory, com­plet­ing the 27 outs re­quired to end this farce and con­clude an­other series win for the Astros, 13-5 against the Ath­let­ics on Wed­nes­day night.

Still, the beat­ing con­tin­ued as the Astros won their sev­enth con­sec­u­tive game, their long­est streak of the sea­son.

Evan Gat­tis ar­rived in the sev­enth in­ning of a six-run game. Danny Coulombe was the lat­est in a cav­al­cade of re­liev­ers tasked with clean­ing the mess Paul Black­burn left. A first-pitch sinker sat up in the strike zone.

Gat­tis blud­geoned it onto an in­sur­ance com­pany’s ad­ver­tise­ment well be­yond the Coli­seum’s left-field wall. He rounded the bases. The mo­tion has be­come rote with Gat­tis’ tor­rid month and un­matched power in­side this build­ing.

For a sec­ond night in a row, Gat­tis drove in five runs. No other player in Astros his­tory had pro­duced con­sec­u­tive games of five or more RBIs. Now, a man who in his first 634 games had never once driven in four or more runs, has done it.

He’s struck eight home runs in­side this de­crepit build­ing few can force them­selves to en­ter. Only Minute Maid Park and Turner Field — Gat­tis’ past and present home ball­park — have been the site for more. The sev­enth-in­ning

blast was his sec­ond of the evening and ninth in 14 games.

Gat­tis’ three-run home run in the sec­ond in­ning con­tin­ued the Astros’ 42-minute as­sault, a to­tal evis­cer­a­tion of Black­burn — a 24-year-old righthanded veteran of 11 Ma­jor League starts — and the four ac­tual pitch­ers who fol­lowed his wretched dis­play.

Jake Smolin­ski, an out­fielder, threw the ninth in­ning. Jake Maris­nick launched a two-run home run against him on his sec­ond pitch, an ab­surd site late at night all caused by Black­burn. Rough out­ing

Lit­tle was known of Black­burn, who the A’s as­signed to slow the Astros’ un­for­giv­ing lineup. Ad­vance scouts dis­sem­i­nated re­ports. Trou­bling lines from his 11 other ma­jor league starts raised con­cern.

He al­lowed one hit per in­ning last sea­son, re­sid­ing low in the strike zone with a fivepitch mix de­signed to gen­er­ate soft con­tact. Only 22 men struck out against him in 58 in­nings. A stint on the 60-day dis­abled list de­layed his progress this sea­son.

He was re­ac­ti­vated Thurs­day to start against the Roy­als, a mori­bund bunch who await the Astros’ ar­rival in two days. Op­er­at­ing on a pitch count, Black­burn nav­i­gated the start with­out hin­drance, ced­ing three hits in six in­nings that re­quired 67 pitches to com­plete.

“Hasn’t missed a lot of bats in his ca­reer,” man­ager A.J. Hinch said be­fore Wed­nes­day’s game, pre­scient words be­fore a blud­geon­ing.

Black­burn threw 47 pitches and col­lected four outs. One pro­duced a run, Gat­tis’ sac­ri­fice fly that scored Car­los Cor­rea dur­ing a three-run first in­ning. Fast start

Five of the six men to face him in the sec­ond in­ning reached base. The Astros scored seven times to take a 10run lead be­fore mak­ing a fifth out.

Against Black­burn in the sec­ond, Cor­rea crushed an RBI triple that Mark Canha mis­han­dled in left field, al­low­ing both Jake Maris­nick and Springer to scoot home.

Gur­riel and Josh Red­dick sin­gled — Gur­riel’s drove in an­other run — be­fore A’s man­ager Bob Melvin emerged from the dugout to mer­ci­fully end Black­burn’s ten­ure in fa­vor of Emilio Pa­gan. His first as­sign­ment was un­de­sir­able, fac­ing Gat­tis with a man in scor­ing po­si­tion.

Pa­gan of­fered two fourseam fast­balls on the outer half. Gat­tis spoiled both foul. A third grooved in­side. Gat­tis de­posited it to left field, the three­run shot to ren­der this game a boat race. Mar­win Gon­za­lez fol­lowed four pitches later with a solo shot of his own. chan­dler.rome@chron.com twit­ter.com/chan­dler_rome

Ezra Shaw / Getty Im­ages

Evan Gat­tis gets his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive five-RBI game started with a sac­ri­fice fly in the first in­ning Wed­nes­day.

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