OAKLAND — Fans returned to the Oakland Coliseum for the first time since 2019 and made it clear they hadn’t forgotten the opposing team’s involvement in baseball’s biggest scandal of that winter.
Boos, chants of “Cheater!” rained down from the some-10,436 fans in attendance, a sellout, who’ve been waiting over a year to express their dismay over the Houston Astros cheating scandal that broke in November 2019. For all nine innings, fans belted relentless boos every time an Astros hitter came to bat.
The Coliseum’s first fans didn’t have that much to cheer about in a frustrating 8-1 Opening Night loss on Thursday in which the offense couldn’t reach the gas pedal. But after a year without live baseball, fans found something to cheer about. They cheered when the A’s Opening Day starter, Chris Bassitt, plunked Carlos Correa with a first pitch fastball on the arm.
They cheered when Chad Pinder, the starting right fielder, robbed Kyle Tucker of an RBI extra-base hit at the wall in the third inning. They roared even louder when Pinder made a diving catch to rob Jose Altuve of an RBI extra-base hit in the fifth inning. Bassitt was sure to wait for Pinder at the mound for a thankful embrace.
Elvis Andrus, the A’s newest shortstop, introduced himself to fans by hitting a ground-rule double off Zack Greinke. Ramón Laureano went 2-for-4, his double in the seventh inning starting a meager rally that resulted in a Matt Chapman sacrifice fly for the A’s only run.
Bassitt won’t be happy with his outing; he couldn’t quite keep step with a locked-in Greinke. He dealt 5 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs with three strikeouts and two walks.
He worked around an Astros lineup that was all over his fastball for five innings, allowing a run on an Alex Bregman ground out. Then trouble struck in the sixth against the middle of Houston’s order. Michael Brantley hit a loud line out and Bregman doubled in the gap and a walk to Kyle Tucker — the continual hard contact spelled the end of Bassitt’s outing before things unraveled more.
But Yusmeiro Petit couldn’t stop the bleeding. Yordan Alvarez hit a two-run double off the wall in left field to extend the Astros lead and inflate Bassitt’s ERA to 5.06.
In his A’s debut, left-handed sidearmer Adam Kolarek dug the deficit even deeper, allowing back-to-back home runs to Bregman and Brantley. Each home run hit 106 mph and 107 mph exit velocities, respectively.
Up next: Jesús Luzardo will face Cristian Javier on Friday night for Game 2 of this four-game series.