Jose Altuve returns to the lineup as the Astros take on the At

Given his penchant for aggression early in the count, it was no surprise when Houston second baseman Jose Altuve hacked the first pitch as Oakland left-hander Ken Waldichuk led off the first inning on Friday.

In fact, the score of the batsman or those who followed did not matter.

After missing the first 43 games of the season with a broken right thumb in the World Baseball Classic, Astros they were simply happy to have Altuve back leading the team. Altuve went 0-4 with a walk, including his first plate appearance Astros5-1 win over visiting Oakland

Three Astros The top of the order with Altuve out was Mauricio Dubon, Jeremy Pena and Chas McCormick. Each brought something to the job, but none could replace Altuve, whose combination of power and speed is the primary ignition for the Astros‘offense

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With Altuve back in the fold, the expectation is to a Astros to regain their stride offensively. It may take some time for Altuve to regain his footing, but getting it back was a key first step

“It was very good,” Astros Manager Dusty Baker said he saw Altuve on the field. “Everybody was happy. You thought it would be a little rusty, but the rust will come off and the more at-bats you get and the more games you play, it will come off.

Rookie right-hander Hunter Brown (4-1, 3.43 ERA) was given the starting job for Astros on Saturday

He allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk and struck out a career-high eight in 5 2/3 innings in a 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. Brown ranks first among American League rookies in ERA, opponent batting average (.253) and wins.

Brown made his first career appearance in the Athletics

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Left-hander JP Sears (0-3, 5.27 ERA) will start for Oakland in the middle game of the series.

He was a no-decision in his last start after allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. AthleticsAn 11-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday

He is winless in his last 10 appearances through September 25, 2022, 0-4 with a 5.33 ERA. Sears was 6-2 with a 3.58 ERA through the first 24 games of his career. He is 0-3 with a 7.84 ERA in four road starts this season.

Sears made his only career appearance against the Astros On July 21, 2022, allowing two runs on one hit with one strikeout in three innings while pitching for the New York Yankees. He did not participate in the 7-5 loss in his last appearance for the Yankees

While a throwing error by veteran shortstop Aledmys Diaz opened the door Astros A sparkling diving catch by left fielder JJ Bleday set the defensive tone for their first run on Friday Athletics

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Bleday loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth inning, robbing Martin Maldonado of an extra base hit that likely would have cleared the bases in a one-run game.

“For us, this is the focus” Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said of the defense. “We had a mistake tonight with the pitch that (Ryan) Noda was trying to stay on the bag that cost us a run in the second, but we’re going to keep working and grinding.

— Field Level Media