OAKLAND — At this point, the A’s are just glad to see the Houston Astros get out of town.
Swept over a three-game series as they fell to the Astros, 7-3, on Thursday, the A’s have now lost seven in a row to Houston and are 1-8 against the defending World Series champions this season.
The meetings between the two teams have not been very competitive. After winning their first matchup of the season, the A’s have served as a punching bag for the Astros, getting outscored 70-28 over the nine games.
But perhaps an even bigger loss came during the game when Matt Chapman was removed from the game with what A’s manager Bob Melvin described as a hand contusion.
Though Chapman’s left hand was swollen after he was hit on his left hand with a fastball Tuesday night, it was the right hand that began to bother Chapman, leading to Chad Pinder replacing Chapman at third base to begin the seventh inning.
“It’s been bothering him progressively for the last few days,” Melvin said. “He’s been swinging the bat well and wanted to stay in the lineup, but it just got the point today where a couple of swings looked to me like it was bothering him.”
Chapman dealt with the same injury last November when he began his offseason hitting routine and began to feel discomfort in his right hand. He told the team and was sent for X-rays back then, but the results came back negative and Chapman decided to just take a break from swinging until January.
After feeling fine swinging the bat in January and February, Chapman began to feel the pain again during spring training and received a cortisone shot. The pain had lingered throughout the season, but it reached a boiling point Thursday.
“I was trying to push through it and obviously just couldn’t do it anymore,” Chapman said. “The last couple of days I really started noticing it again. It probably wasn’t good of me to not say anything. I wanted to be out there for the team, but at the same time, you can’t hurt the team.”
Chapman was scheduled to undergo an MRI at some point Thursday. He was shut down for nearly three months after receiving the cortisone shot in spring.
With the way Chapman had been swinging the bat lately, entering the day hitting .252 with 10 home runs and having reached base safely in seven consecutive games, losing the third baseman for any extended amount of a time would be a tough blow.
“I think it’s normal wear and tear but it flared up on me today,” Chapman said. “My hand was kind of swelling up. We’re gonna get an MRI and go from there.”
Chapman had an uncharacteristic bad day on defense. Entering the day leading the league in defensive runs saved, he made two costly errors in the sixth.
Battling the brutal sun at the Coliseum, Chapman dropped a usually routine pop up that ended up striking him on the neck, allowing Brian McCann to lead off the inning by reaching first. A few batters later, Chapman’s shot at a double play went awry when he stepped on third base for a force out and airmailed his throw to first. The ball rolled down the right field line and allowed a run to score, with another run coming in on a double by Jose Altuve the next at-bat to put the Astros (45-25) ahead by six runs.