Nori Aoki is not known as a power hitter. The outfielder claimed on waivers from Seattle last fall is better known for his ability to spray hits inside the yard. But the 35-year-old Japanese import yanked a Kendall Graveman pitch up the stairway behind the right field fence Friday night that switched on the offense as Houston took advantage of Oakland miscues to grab the series opener, 7-2, at Yoko Ono Coliseum.
Aoki: All grins after homer
(c) Associated Press
With the win, the Astros pushed past Anaheim into first place in the AL West while Dallas Keuchel showed more evidence that he's back in 2015 form. Keuchel gave up a solo shot to Khris Davis in the second but lasted seven innings, allowing four hits, two walks and the one run while fanning seven. Chris Devenski tossed a scoreless eighth before Michael Feliz took care of the ninth, giving up a home run to Trevor Plouffe.
Aoki pushed across Houston's second run to break the tie in the sixth. This came off Ryan Madson who was pinned with the loss. Aoki ended the night with a .350 batting average and a .959 OPS on the young season. Not bad for a guy the Mariners didn't think they needed.
Brian McCann, another Astros newcomer, drove in three with a two-run double in the seventh that squirted into the deep right-center ally and added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Just a few nights ago, Jose Altuve was hitting under .200. After another 3-for-3 night, Altuve is now batting .326 with an .815 OPS. Jose scored twice on errors by Plouffe off the bat of Carlos Correa and also stole a base.
The Astros and A's will spend the rest of the weekend by the Bay in afternoon action. On Saturday, Lance McCullers (1-0) will take the rubber for Houston. Lefthander Sean Manaea (0-1) opens for Oakland in the 3:05 Central contest. The Astros are 3-1 on this West Coast road trip which finishes Sunday.
- Bob Hulsey